Given the seeming inevitability of decriminalization if not outright legalization, I find it somewhat odd that the Obama Administration is looking to crack down on the most pot-friendly place in the country, California. This seems like an issue where government indifference is the best move. It certainly doesn’t feel like legalized pot is going to be an election issue so I don’t think there’s any concrete political benefit here.
It could be that Obama outright opposes unregulated medical marijuana dispensaries and legalization and is giving his law enforcement team full powers to crack down. Given the budget crisis, unreasonable sentencing for drug violations, and overcrowded prisons, this doesn’t seem like very good public policy.
On the other hand, you can make a legitimate argument that the pot culture of California has gotten a bit too public. I was in Oakland last weekend for the Western History Association conference. I went with some friends around San Francisco. My friend knew of an excellent beer bar in the Mission so we stopped in to get a delicious beverage. We go out on the patio and people are openly smoking pot out there. And not just the surreptitious joint but pulling out pipes. I don’t have any principled opposition to this and no doubt people within the neighborhood knows what establishments allow what. But, like cigarette smoke, it’s a drug that those around you also inhale, so the actual smoking of pot in public seems suboptimal. So I think there needs to be some kind of control on the process.