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Obama’s New War on Medical Marijuana

[ 24 ] February 19, 2012 |

Interesting Tim Dickinson piece in Rolling Stone about the Obama Administration entering into an all-out war on medical marijuana. Dickinson doesn’t provide many answers as to why this has happened, noting the relatively sane policy the administration took in its first 2 years and then a complete about-face in the last year. He suggests that it might be career drug warriors making a stand and a president who honestly doesn’t care very much about this issue. That does make some sense. Still, given the widespread support for medical marijuana and increasing support for decriminalization of the drug in small amounts, this is an unfortunate turn of events.

No doubt all those who are outraged at the federal government cracking down on “states’ rights” will find the DEA going after medical marijuana in California equally shocking…..

Comments (24)

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  1. Linkmeister says:

    I doubt one of the preening White House Press Corps would ask it, but “Why this reversal of policy toward medical marijuana, sir?” would seem to be a legitimate question the next time Obama shows up at a press conference. It would have the value of being an unlikely question he’d have been prepped for, too.

    • Ronnie P says:

      How about: “Mr. President, what message do you think you’re sending to the American people by continuing your predecessor’s stance toward medical marijuana? Is it not an admission that he was correct?”

      That’s as close as you’re going to get.

      BTW, Kevin Drum quotes Tim Fernholz suggesting that they are spooked by the fact that looser state laws lead to de facto legalization, and they don’t want to go there.

  2. DocAmazing says:

    We might look forward to a new policy: medical cannabis dispensaries being required to obtain a transvaginal or transanal ultrasound before releasing any quantity of pot.

    And we’ll still have to be content that it isn’t Republicans doing it.

  3. Honorable Bob says:

    No doubt all those who are outraged at the federal government cracking down on “states’ rights”…

    While I would like to see the federal laws rolled back as power shifts rightly to the states, that isn’t how it is. The law is the law and until it’s changed, fed law trumps.

    And for those who wish to simply ignore these laws, I would ask them if it’s OK to simply ignore the laws I don’t like?

    • lawguy says:

      Ah, there is that little thing called prosecutorial discretion. In which some are not prosecuted for things they do. Perhaps if weed were traded on Wall Street we could stop these prosecutions.

    • Malaclypse says:

      Is there anything you do like? Because here you spend a lot of time complaining about pretty much everything. I’ve never seen a single comment where you were happy about anything, except for the times you are happy about someone else’s suffering.

  4. Honorable Bob says:

    Ah, there is that little thing called prosecutorial discretion.

    Great!

    I’m sure you’ll be thrilled when abotion clinic bombings are not prosecuted as those charged with upholding the laws cite “prosecutorial discretion”.

    • witless chum says:

      Bombings are the same as legalizing medical marijuana and should be treated with equivalent seriousness, huh?

      When all you have is clown makeup, every problem starts to look like fitting into a tiny car.

  5. elm says:

    I’m going to go with bureaucratic discretion coupled with an apathetic President, i.e. a classic example of the principal-agent problem.

    The Deputy AG in charge of this changed, and as soon as it did, the policy towards medical marijuana changed. My guess is that the original Deputy AG came close to sharing Obama’s preferences but the replacement was simply next in line and began enforcing the policy he wanted. Obama doesn’t care enough about the issue to rein him in. (This is a guess: I don’t know enough about the internal workings of the DoJ and DEA to know anything for sure; it’s also highly possible that the new guy represents Obama’s preferences and the old guy was pushed out for going too far. Even the more benign explanation doesn’t let Obama off the hook, but if this is happening because he doesn’t care enough to prevent it from happening, then exposure of the issue could actually lead to a change in policy. If this policy represents his preferences, then it’s unlikely to be changed.)

  6. BradP says:

    How is this new?

    Libertarian outlets that I read have been beating this drum pretty heavy for at least two years now.

    • BradP says:

      And Obama never had a sane policy, he just issued a lot of memos that provided cover.

    • joe from Lowell says:

      This just in: “libertarian outlets” lack understanding of details of government policy, sense of proportion.

      Obama’s policy used to be, like, totally statist, and now, it’s still, like, totally statist, so what’s the difference?

      • BradP says:

        This just in: “libertarian outlets” lack understanding of details of government policy, sense of proportion.

        Obama’s policy used to be, like, totally statist, and now, it’s still, like, totally statist, so what’s the difference?

        What part of that Rolling Stone article haven’t libertarian outlets not been critiquing for years? Jacob Sullum has been releasing peices at least monthly on this for ages.

        Jacob Sullum on his skepticism about Obama’s drug policy from October 2009.

        Jacob Sullum on the Leonhart nomination

        • joe from Lowell says:

          What part of that Rolling Stone article haven’t libertarian outlets not been critiquing for years?

          The question you should be asking is, how legitimate have those criticisms been, and how much more legitimate have they become?

          Spending years ranting about something that just began, or markedly increased, a few months ago does not actually make your old rantings correct.

          • BradP says:

            It didn’t just start.

            Obama nominated drug-warrior Leonhart over two years ago, and Obama was keeping pace with Bush on shutting down dispensaries in 2009 and 2010.

            You will note that the RS article mentions Obama’s first three years when it talks about raided dispensaries, not just since July 2011 when the DOJ officially changed its stance.

            The Obama administration has never been good on drugs, they have just been committed (to various degrees) to acting like that particular campaign promise wasn’t a complete lie.

  7. Halloween Jack says:

    He suggests that it might be career drug warriors making a stand and a president who honestly doesn’t care very much about this issue.

    Add “in an election year” to the end, and you’ve got the most plausible explanation. If they don’t kill off medical marijuana dispensaries before November, and Obama gets re-elected, then he has no real reason to care about the right-wing noise machine screeching about pot smokers taking over the nation.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      Although, of course, he has no reason to care about that now. Any political consultant who thinks the volume of medical marijuana prosecutions is going to affect the outcome of the 2012 elections should be fired immediately.

  8. Antonio Conselheiro says:

    Obama has calculated that he can be reelected while completely ignoring and insulting the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. This is just data point #101.

    If Romney is nominated, Republicans will be unenthusiastic. Bush won on base turnout — the conservatives came out for him. Romney can’t do that. But if a crazy is nominated, the sane 20% of the Republicans will vote for Obama. Call it the Santorum strategy.

    After Obama is reelected, the left (us) will be completely demoralized. We will have been told that unless we show that we’re willing to see a Republican elected, our opinions will be weighted at zero. And maybe even then.

    Call it Daley’s revenge. Political machines have long memories.

    Meanwhile we’re in the middle of a mini-depression which we hope that is not the beginning of a new rightwing social order, but which probably is, and both parties are in the pocket of the malefactors who caused the collapse. Oh well.

  9. Honorable Bob says:

    Dr.,

    “Trolling”, at least on this board, is simply disagreeing with the bobble-heads.

    And the “pain” thingy. Every cause is dire and, if we don’t agree with you, why it’s just horrible. Horrible that some group must take responsibility or another group doesn’t get the status or government help you think it should.

    Bottom line: The “pain” is not having others cave in..

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