President Obama recently doubled-down on his harassment of the 17 states who now make medical marijuana available to adults with medical need. The president seems to think he can rest on his progressive laurels — figuring no liberals will vote for Mitt Romney. That may be true; but a significant number of voters are either going to sit this election out or support the Libertarian party candidate – former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson. Most significantly, the groups that are most opposed to Obama’s drug war include those groups he most needs to motivate and mobilize again (e.g., young people, minorities, and those concerned with civil rights.)
Like many others, I was turned-off by the president’s flippant and condescending attitude he displayed during his recent Rolling Stone interview. He then grew even more sarcastic during the White House Correspondence Dinner and on his appearance on Jimmy Fallon (where he was trying to woo young voters.) The president we thought would be reasonable and fair, has become a “holier-than-thou” hypocrite who even admits to having smoked marijuana regularly while he was young. In fact, the Obama administration has greatly accelerated the drug war way past George Bush – ruining millions of people’s lives and wasting billions of public dollars. You will learn all about that here.
Now he is shifting the blame to congress which is a lazy cop-out. As you will read, Nancy Pelosi and other congressional leaders are urging him to get real and end this stupid war on weed. In this article, you will learn all about the special interest groups that are pulling the president’s strings on this important public policy and public health matter (e.g., lobbyists representing the pharmaceutical industry, alcohol companies, prison guards, police, and private prisons.) You will also learn about some positive initiatives – including how Anonymous is getting involved in this vital issue. Click below to learn the truth!!
It is time to contact the Obama campaign and the White House if you care about this issue. The president figures that he will not lose any significant support by taking a right-wing, totalitarian approach to state’s rights regarding medical marijuana. Medical marijuana patients, hip stoners, and anyone who cares about civil liberties should send him a clear message: It is time to end the unethical and wasteful war against American citizens as he promised to do during the last campaign. His campaign sent me the following statement in mid-August of 2008.
Thanks for getting in touch about the Senator’s position on allowing severely ill patients to use marijuana for medical purposes. Many states have laws that condone medical marijuana, but the Bush Administration is using federal drug enforcement agents to raid these facilities and arrest seriously ill people. Focusing scarce law enforcement resources on these patients who pose no threat while many violent and highly dangerous drug traffickers are at large makes no sense. Senator Obama will not continue the Bush policy when he is president.
After that I began working and writing in support of him. However, his actions speak volumes to me and others. We won’t get fooled again! In fact, I will be working to support the Libertarian Party candidate – former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson.
President Obama clarified his position on medical marijuana in an interview with Rolling Stone, telling publisher Jann Wenner that he can’t “nullify congressional law.”
“What I specifically said was that we were not going to prioritize prosecutions of persons who are using medical marijuana. I never made a commitment that somehow we were going to give carte blanche to large-scale producers and operators of marijuana – and the reason is, because it’s against federal law. I can’t nullify congressional law.”
“I can’t ask the Justice Department to say, ‘Ignore completely a federal law that’s on the books.’ What I can say is, ‘Use your prosecutorial discretion and properly prioritize your resources to go after things that are really doing folks damage.’ As a consequence, there haven’t been prosecutions of users of marijuana for medical purposes.”
Obama also said in a late night TV appearance Tuesday on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, that he didn’t expect to change that law: “We’re not going to be legalizing weed … anytime soon.”
Some of Obama’s more liberal and libertarian supporters are disappointed by the stance his administration has taken on medical marijuana — and believe that both he and the Justice Department have backed away from their commitment to leaving medical marijuana dispensaries alone in states where it is legal.
The confusion stems from a 2008 interview where Obama told the Oregon Mail Tribune that “I’m not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue.” Upon taking office, the Justice Department also announced a shift in policy where it would allocate prosecutorial resources away from states where marijuana is legal — but critics say the raids continue unabated.’ As a consequence, there haven’t been prosecutions of users of marijuana for medical purposes,” Obama said.
Obama also said in a late night TV appearance Tuesday on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, that he didn’t expect Congress to change that law ”We’re not going to be legalizing weed … anytime soon.”
The Obama administration is under fire for its assault on state-approved medical marijuana programs, and President Barack Obama is gearing up for the presidential election by shedding responsibility for raiding dispensaries. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone publisher Jann S. Wenner, Obama attempted to defend his administration’s war on pot as consistent with his 2008 campaign promise — one medical marijuana advocates have not forgotten — to respect state medical marijuana laws. In the interview, Obama deflected blame for the crackdown onto federal prosecutors and what he considers to be illegitimate operations in legal dispensaries. His arguments, however, are flawed.
For medical marijuana to be safe and regulated there must be providers. What’s more, marijuana patients have, indeed, been arrested. And as dispensaries continue to close — and states fear opening them — people who use marijuana medically but buy it illegally are offered little to no protection from prosecution.
But dispensaries do not determine who is a legitimate marijuana patient. In Colorado, for example, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issues medical marijuana cards to patient applicants. In other states, licensed doctors admit patients to a medical marijuana program. Determining whether those prescriptions are legitimate is not the job of dispensary operators, nor should they be prosecuted for providing medicine to patients who have obtained proof that marijuana helps them. Similarly, such a medical judgment is not one the Department of Justice, or Obama, is qualified to make.
What’s more, while it is often easy for people to obtain a medical marijuana card, because there are many ailments the plant treats (and many that can easily be faked), recreational marijuana use is not a valid excuse to close dispensaries or ban medical treatment. Like other anxiety and pain medications, recreational users will inevitably slip through the cracks of regulation.
The real problem, however, is that marijuana’s status as a Schedule I drug defines the plant as having “no currently accepted medical use,” making it illegal, even for medicinal purposes, under federal law. Obama did not comment on what many consider to be a dire need to reclassify marijuana as medically beneficial (therefore legalizing dispensaries). Tuesday night, however, he told Jimmy Fallon (video below) that full-blown legalization is not something the U.S. can expect to see “anytime soon.”
Interestingly, Obama’s reluctance to consider marijuana law reform comes alongside historic shifts in opinion and debate: A record-high 50% of Americans now support marijuana legalization, and Latin Americans leaders are amid an unprecedented campaign urging America to consider drug war alternatives. At a meeting of 33 Latin American nations earlier this month, however, Obama said the U.S. would not consider ending prohibition. Still, he suggested to Rolling Stone that a health-based approach to drug war is a more realistic expectation of reform: We’ve had a discussion about how to focus on treatment, taking a public-health approach to drugs and lessening the overwhelming emphasis on criminal laws as a tool to deal with this issue. I think that’s an appropriate debate that we should have.
A closer look at the U.S.’s new drug strategy, however, reveals that the Obama administration will continue to focus resources on low-level arrests. Obama, it seems, is just another drug warrior. Americans, therefore, cannot expect to see real reform — significantly fewer (or zero) recreational drug users behind bars or the government’s recognition of marijuana’s medicinal value — “anytime soon.”
President Obama is courting the youth vote this week, but is warning that his administration is not going to ignore federal laws against marijuana or give “carte blanche” to its large-scale producers. “We’re not going to have legalized weed anytime soon,” he told late-night host Jimmy Fallon.
The 44th President has talked about smoking “weed” and even using a little “blow” years ago while a student at a prestigious high school in Honolulu. In a new interview with Rolling Stone, however, Obama sounds like the Harvard Law Review editor he was a little later in life.
The Obama administration’s back-and-forth policies on marijuana can serve as a substitute for seeing the movie “Twister.” In Oregon, the U.S. Attorney has warned owners of buildings that house medical marijuana dispensaries that they face possible confiscation of property if their tenants are prosecuted and convicted. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Seattle has, however, concentrated on apprehension and prosecution of criminal organizations moving large quantities of marijuana across state lines, and bringing “B.C. Bud” down from Canada.
Seattle voted in 2003 to make marijuana enforcement the lowest priority of its police department. Up to 75,000 people attend the annual Hempfest on the city’s waterfront, the largest such celebration in North America. But federal agents recently raided and closed “Oaksterdam University” in Oakland, Calif., which has trained students in the growing and cultivation of marijuana, for medicinal purposes.
A pair of Western states — Washington and Colorado — will vote on statewide measures that would legalize sale of marijuana, tax it, and put it under state supervision. In Washington, former federal law enforcement officials — notably ex-U.S. Attorney John McKay — are outspoken supporters of Initiative 502.
Five Special Interest Groups That Help Keep Marijuana Illegal By Lee Fang, Republic Report – May 3, 2012
Last year, over 850,000 people in America were arrested for marijuana-related crimes. Despite public opinion, the medical community, and human rights experts all moving in favor of relaxing marijuana prohibition laws, little has changed in terms of policy. There have been many great books and articles detailing the history of the drug war. Part of America’s fixation with keeping the leafy green plant illegal is rooted in cultural and political clashes from the past. However, we at Republic Report think it’s worth showing that there are entrenched interest groups that are spending large sums of money to keep our broken drug laws on the books:
- Police Unions: Police departments across the country have become dependent on federal drug war grants to finance their budget. In March, we published a story revealing that a police union lobbyist in California coordinated the effort to defeat Prop 19, a ballot measure in 2010 to legalize marijuana, while helping his police department clients collect tens of millions in federal marijuana-eradication grants. And it’s not just in California. Federal lobbying disclosures show that other police union lobbyists have pushed for stiffer penalties for marijuana-related crimes nationwide.
- Private Prisons Corporations: Private prison corporations make millions by incarcerating people who have been imprisoned for drug crimes, including marijuana. As Republic Report’s Matt Stoller noted last year, Corrections Corporation of America, one of the largest for-profit prison companies, revealed in a regulatory filing that continuing the drug war is part in parcel to their business strategy. Prison companies have spent millions bankrolling pro-drug war politicians and have used secretive front groups, like the American Legislative Exchange Council, to pass harsh sentencing requirements for drug crimes.
- Alcohol and Beer Companies: Fearing competition for the dollars Americans spend on leisure, alcohol and tobacco interests have lobbied to keep marijuana out of reach. For instance, the California Beer & Beverage Distributors contributed campaign contributions to a committee set up to prevent marijuana from being legalized and taxed.
- Pharmaceutical Corporations: Like the sin industries listed above, pharmaceutical interests would like to keep marijuana illegal so American don’t have the option of cheap medical alternatives to their products. Howard Wooldridge, a retired police officer who now lobbies the government to relax marijuana prohibition laws, told Republic Report that next to police unions, the “second biggest opponent on Capitol Hill is big PhRMA” because marijuana can replace “everything from Advil to Vicodin and other expensive pills.”
- Prison Guard Unions: Prison guard unions have a vested interest in keeping people behind bars just like for-profit prison companies. In 2008, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association spent a whopping $1 million to defeat a measure that would have “reduced sentences and parole times for nonviolent drug offenders while emphasizing drug treatment over prison.”
Why Can’t You Smoke Pot? Because Lobbyists Are Getting Rich Off of the War on Drugs By Lee Fang – Mar 7th 2012
At some point in the distant past, the war on drugs might have been popular. But not anymore — the polling is clear, but beyond that, the last three Presidents have used illegal drugs. So why do we still put hundreds of thousands of people in steel cages for pot-related offenses? Well, there are many reasons, but one of them is, of course, money in politics. Corruption. Whatever you want to call it, it’s why you can’t smoke a joint without committing a crime, though of course you can ingest any number of pills or drinks completely within the law.
Some of the groups who want to keep the drug illegal are police unions that want more members to pay more dues. One of the primary sources for cash for more policing activities are Federal grants for penalizing illegal drug use, which help pay for overtime, additional police officers, and equipment for the force.
In 2010, California considered Prop 19, a measure to legalize marijuana and tax it as alcohol. The proposition gained more votes than Meg Whitman, the former eBay executive and Republican gubernatorial nominee that year, but failed to pass. Opponents of the initiative ran ads, organized rallies, and spread conspiracy theories about billionaire George Soros to confuse voters.
Lobbyist John Lovell managed the opposition campaign against Prop 19. He told Time Magazine that he was pushing against the initiative because, “the last thing we need is another mind-altering substance to be legalized.” Lovell’s firm was paid over $386,350 from a wide array of police unions, including the California Police Chiefs Association. While Lovell may contend that he sincerely opposes the idea of marijuana legalization, he has constructed an entire business model predicated on pot prohibition.
Shortly after President Obama’s stimulus program passed, Lovell went to work channeling the taxpayer money for California into drug war programs. According to documents Republic Report obtained from the Police Chiefs Association, Lovell helped local departments apply for drug war money from the Federal government. Here’s a copy of one letter sent to a police department in Lassen County, California:
There is big money in marijuana prohibition. Lovell represented a police union in a bid to steer some $2.2 million dollars into a “Marijuana Suppression Program.” In 2009 and 2010, California police unions sought a $7,537,389 chunk of Federal money for police to conduct a “Campaign Against Marijuana Planting” program.
The anti-marijuana money went directly into the paychecks of many officers. For example, police departments in Shasta, Siskiyou, and Tehama Counties formed a “North California Eradication Team” to receive $550,000 in grants that helped pay for overtime, a new officer, and flight operations.
The Federal anti-marijuana honeypot might have dried up if Prop 19 had passed. Legalizing marijuana would have generated billions in tax revenue for the state of California, while also reducing victimless crime prosecutions. But for lobbyists like Lovell, legalization was a direct assault on hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential fees for helping to solicit taxpayer money for his clients.
Police unions also contributed about $100,500 to a campaign account used to coordinate opposition to Prop 19. Of the $386,350 in fees paid by police unions to Lovell through 2009 and 2010, status update reports reviewed by Republic Report reveal that Lovell worked on a number of issues, from advocacy against Prop 19 to channeling grants and monitoring legislation.
Of course, police unions aren’t the only interest group with a stake in maintaining broken drug laws. The beer industry, alcohol corporations, and prison guard unions also contributed money to help Lovell stop Prop 19. Howard Wooldridge, a retired police officer who now helps push for legalization as a citizen advocate, told Republic Report that drug company lobbyists also fight to keep marijuana illegal because they view pot as a low-cost form of competition.
Back before the Reagan Revolution kicked the kooky, corrupt and thoroughly counterproductive War On Drugs into high gear. Suddenly this country lost its collective mind, suffering a lapse in judgment that vaunted well past ill-advised and just beyond “they have weapons of mass destruction” to what might best be labeled “the mind of Ted Nugent.”
By any measure; economically, morally, democratically, we are the worse for allowing special interests, from private prisons to the security industry, take us down this road. It has spiritually hollowed us out, while erecting a prominent prison culture that makes The People’s Republic of China seem like Woodstock.
This was made all the more evident recently when a Harvard economist, Jeffrey Miron, released a study showing this exercise in dunderheadedness is costing us $13.7 billion a year. Ernest A. Canning points to some statistics reported onDemocracy Now! showing that “over the last 40 years, more than 45 million drug-related arrests have cost an estimated $1 trillion.” …
Sadly, things have gotten no better under President Obama than they were under his predecessors. Back when he was running for President in 2008, Obama claimed to support the “basic concept of using medical marijuana for the same purposes and with the same controls as other drugs,” He even went further, claiming he would “not be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws.” Yet, that is exactly what he has done, using the very same Justice Department to raid over 100 marijuana dispensaries during his term. It is shameful really.
The wasted potential of those who will go to our jails instead of our colleges will not only cost these individuals and their families dearly, but our society as a whole. Much like with our health care system, when we ignore or create problems in the short term, they always come back to haunt us. … If we continue with the half-baked idea of expanding this war, we will also continue to watch our financial future, our moral fiber and our civil liberties go up in smoke.
Responding to the Obama Administration’s latest national drug control strategy, leading drug policy reform advocates assailed the president for “prioritizing low-level drug arrests” over other policies that even the White House has acknowledged to be more effective in boosting public health and safety.
In an introductory statement (PDF) issued Tuesday, President Barack Obama wrote that his strategy outlines “A Drug Policy for the 21st Century“ that emphasizes addiction treatments over incarceration and life-saving outreach over harsh law enforcement. The White House website even brags about the effectiveness of harm-reduction strategies over mass incarcerations, saying the approach is “grounded in decades of research and scientific study.” …
The president’s drug control strategy comes just days after Latin American leaders at the Summit of the Americas asked Obama to consider legalization as a potential cure for the black market violence that plagues so many of their countries. President Obama responded by saying he’s open to a discussion on drug policy, but does not believe legalization is the answer, and the summit ended with Latin leaders wondering what they should do next.
“The chorus of voices calling for a real debate on ending prohibition is growing louder all the time,” Neill Franklin, a former Boston police officer and the executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), said in an advisory. “The time for real change is now, but at the Summit of the Americas President Obama announced more than $130 million in aid to fund the continued effort to arrest drug traffickers in Latin America. This prohibition strategy hasn’t worked in the past and it cannot work in the future. Latin American leaders know it, and President Obama must know it.”
“This strategy is nearly identical to previous national drug strategies,” Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the DPA, said in a media advisory. “While the rhetoric is new – reflecting the fact that three-quarters of Americans consider the drug war a failure – the substance of the actual policies is the same. In reality, the administration is prioritizing low-level drug arrests, trampling on state medical marijuana laws, and expanding supply-side interdiction approaches – while not doing enough to actually reduce the harms of drug addiction and misuse, such as the escalating overdose epidemic.”
“The president sure does talk a good game about treating drugs as a health issue but so far it’s just that: talk,” Franklin concluded. “Instead of continuing to fund the same old ‘drug war’ approaches that are proven not to work, the president needs to put his money where his mouth is.”
The “Anonymous” movement has come to symbolize much more than just a group of rogue hackers. The online hacktivists now have their sights set on a different human rights issue entirely: marijuana prohibition. Members of the hacking collective, who were at the epicenter of planning and promoting “Occupy Wall Street” last year, announced earlier this month that April 20, 2012 would mark the beginning of an official “Anonymous” push-back against America’s drug laws.
Speaking to Raw Story this week, a person claiming to be a member of “Anonymous,” claimed responsibility for the group’s new “OpCannabis” campaign, explaining that the operation is determined to throw the collective’s weight behind drug reform. After launching a pitch for “OpCannabis” over one year ago, the hacker said that their “PR text evolved into a video,” which was “translated into German by parties unknown,” but then it fizzled. Now that the leading “Anonymous” news account has tuned into the marijuana campaign and began circulating the latest “OpCannabis” updates, it has gone global.
Members of “Anonymous” plan to get outside and be vocal on Friday during nationwide protests against America’s drug policies. Some may even be following up with more computer hacking and website defacement. And just earlier this month, “OpCannabis” got its own website and Twitter account, connecting hundreds of “Anonymous” activists who are now sharing ideas to foster the push-back against prohibition.
But “OpCannabis” isn’t designed to be a hacking spree, Raw Story’s nameless source explained. “Anyone I’ve found that is involved with marijuana activism, I’ve told that they can e-mail any and all materials to the email@example.com and I’ll sort through it and get it on the site.” “We ask you to please educate yourself on its many benefits and share these benefits with your sick or injured friends,” an “OpCannabis” press release implores. “We all know somebody that has cancer or diabetes and cannabis has helped or cured both and many other disorders! Anonymous will begin its support for the legalization of cannabis on 4/20/12. So please show your support by educating yourselves and making your profile pic or timeline banner on your social services accts green or 420 friendly.”
They’ve also asked that each chapter of the remaining “Occupy” groups around the country participate in marijuana-related events, pointing out the billions already spent just this year to incarcerate tens of thousands of marijuana prisoners around the country. Raw Story’s source specifically pointed at the government’s hypocrisy in declaring that the plant has no medical value when pharmaceutical companies are practically begging for permits to research new marijuana-based drugs that address a whole host of ailments, including possible cures for several types of cancer.
“I think the Internet is an absolutely great medium for getting uncensored information,” Raw Story’s nameless source explained. “I’ve read countless stories of doctors outright denying that cannabis has any medical value, when the previously terminally ill cancer patients with six weeks to live are sitting in front of them cancer free two years later. I think through accurate and scientifically valid examination of cannabis and CB1/CB2 receptors, CBD and THC we can prove without a doubt what so many doctors don’t want you to know.”
“Cures don’t make money,” the “Anonymous” member concluded. “Half-assed and defective cures keep you dependent on the medical industry and its artificial products and keep you buying month after month until you die. They don’t want you cured. And that’s the sad reality.”
President Barack Obama’s emphasis on raiding medical marijuana dispensaries drew a rebuke from none other than House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) this week, who warned in a prepared statement that she has “strong concerns” about her political ally’s policy.
Since President Barack Obama took office, “more than 200? state-approved medical marijuana facilities have been raided, according to Kris Hermes, spokesperson for Americans for Safe Access (ASA). “That exceeds the number of raids his predecessor, George W. Bush, oversaw during his entire eight years in office,” he said. The startling statistic wasn’t lost on Pelosi either, whose statement comes just days after she received a petition by marijuana patients in her district.
“I have strong concerns about the recent actions by the federal government that threaten the safe access of medicinal marijuana to alleviate the suffering of patients in California, and undermine a policy that has been in place under which the federal government did not pursue individuals whose actions complied with state laws providing for medicinal marijuana.”
“Proven medicinal uses of marijuana include improving the quality of life for patients with cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and other severe medical conditions. I am pleased to join organizations that support legal access to medicinal marijuana, including the American Nurses Association, the Lymphoma Foundation of America, and the AIDS Action Council. Medicinal marijuana alleviates some of the most debilitating symptoms of AIDS, including pain, wasting, and nausea. The opportunity to ease the suffering of people who are seriously ill or enduring difficult and painful therapies is an opportunity we must not ignore.”
“We applaud Pelosi’s leadership in urging President Obama to address medical marijuana as a public health issue,” ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer said in a media advisory. “Rather than defending a policy of intolerance, President Obama should end his unnecessary and harmful attacks once and for all.”
“The fact that a Democratic congressional leader like Nancy Pelosi is willing to call out a president from her own party over the huge gap between his administration’s actions and its previous written pledges shows just how important and popular an issue medical marijuana really is,” added Nate Bradley, a former California police officer and current medical marijuana patient who works for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. “Hopefully other elected representatives from California and other medical marijuana states will soon call on the president to get control of his federal agencies and stop breaking his campaign promises. It sure would be nice to hear Gov. Jerry Brown finally stand up in defense of our state’s duly enacted laws.”
Pelosi, who has long supported medical marijuana, is not alone in rebuking the Obama administration’s medical marijuana raids, but she is the highest ranking official to do so thus far. The San Francisco Democratic Party passed a resolution last week calling for Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to curb the raids, and nine other members of Congress wrote the administration late last year demanding more respect for states’ rights with regards to marijuana. There’s also a bill in the house, put forward by Reps. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Ron Paul (R-TX), that would allow individual states to set their own policies with regards to marijuana.
They’ve got the American people behind them, too: a Gallup poll last year found that a record high 50 percent of Americans favor legalizing marijuana and regulating it like alcohol. When asked about medical marijuana in a prior Gallup survey, the approval rating jumped to 70 percent. Despite all the pressure, Obama — who’s admitted to trying marijuana previously — has said repeatedly he does not support legalization.
Get the Facts and Tell Your Friends
Friends don’t let friends vote for hypocritical drug warriors. Former New Mexico governor is the right man for the job. He will not only end the immoral drug war, but also the losing battle in Afghanistan. President Obama does not deserve re-election because he has greatly accelerated the war against medical marijuana patients. He is responsible for millions of people who are suffering with disease or in prison.