Obama's War on Weed

In a strange about-face, the president tries to hack medical marijuana off at the knees.

If one were a cynic, one might also view U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy's threat to target advertising as a less than subtle threat to control the debate.

True: Federal law prohibits advertising illegal drugs. Google, for example, agreed to pay a $500 million fine this summer for taking online ads promoting "rogue" Canadian pharmacies.

But pot dispensaries are legal businesses within their states. Under Duffy's threat, the feds will have their say, while the pro-pot message would be erased from public view.

Kent Scheidegger, legal director for the conservative Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, tells the Press that Duffy's threat gave him the willies.

Details

"They're on much thinner ice going after the newspaper," says Scheidegger, who otherwise believes the feds should enforce its own laws against marijuana. "... Maybe there is a political strategy."

It's called the "shut them up" strategy.

There will be pushback

Federal law is, for now, on the side of the prohibitionists.

Scheidegger downplays the state victories handed to medical marijuana. He says if the American people want to change the law, they need to encourage Congress to do so.

Yet that ignores a basic political reality: It's extremely difficult for any politician to stand up for marijuana. He or she will be quickly painted as pro-pothead.

Like women's suffrage, the medical marijuana movement has — in 10 states, anyway — benefited by the direct democracy of citizens initiatives. These elections have taken the pulse of voters in a way that congressional elections cannot.

In six other states and Washington D.C., medical marijuana was legalized by local lawmakers. Other states are bound to vote in favor of decriminalizing pot in the next few years in spite of federal laws.

Phoenix attorney Ty Taber sees it as a major states' rights issue. "Basically, the citizens of these states ... they want marijuana legalized," he says. If Obama wants to play hardball, he says, "You're going to get pushback."

Taber represents Compassion First, a company that helps set up dispensaries. The firm sued Arizona after Governor Jan Brewer, in blatant defiance of voters' wishes, derailed the dispensary portion of Arizona's new law by instructing the Department of Health to reject applications. She simultaneously sued the federal government, asking a judge to rule on whether the state's new law was legal. (Ironically, the U.S. Justice Department's civil department is defending against the lawsuit – and if the feds win, Arizona might just get its first dispensaries.)

Compassion First wants the program implemented as Arizonans intended, and to remove blockades Brewer has thrown in its path. For instance, Arizona requires dispensary owners to have been residents for at least three years.

But the point isn't so much whether or not the company will win its lawsuit or not — it's that they're fighting back, and they're not alone.

Across the country, advocates are returning fire of their own in the court system. Which means Obama won't be able to do battle by the relatively cheap means of letters and threats. He'll likely end up burning through millions of dollars in litigation – money he doesn't have. Taber thinks the president may have underestimated his foe.  "The people behind this marijuana movement — they're committed. They are zealots. And these are smart people — not stoners saying, 'Hey dude, pass another slice of pizza.'"

Half-hearted crackdowns don't work

The latest crackdown will be bad for the pot business. No question. But Obama could be doing much, much more.

He could go after patients. Over the summer, a federal judge ruled that the DEA could peek at the names on Michigan's patient registry. Because marijuana is illegal under federal law, said Judge Hugh Brenneman Jr., patients can't expect privacy.

The feds could also hit pot-tolerant cities. The law doesn't allow municipal workers to be jailed in such prosecutions, but cities or counties could be heavily fined just for setting up zoning requirements for dispensaries.

There's a huge downside to that, of course. Obama will only appear mean and small for having sickly grandmas arrested. And fining cities just enrages residents picking up the tab – the very people the president will need a year from now.

All of which leaves him fighting at partial speed. That, in turn, leaves the "zealots" Taber mentions betting their money and freedom that even if the feds throw the book at some, it won't be them.

Last week, the feds raided several growing operations in California and Oregon, including one in Mendocino County that appeared to be playing by the state rules. But it seems safe to assume that few of the hundreds of other growers in Mendocino County did not uproot their crops in response — just as the hundreds of dispensaries in California did not immediately close their doors after the feds' ominous warning on October 7.

The industry seems to be practicing a form of civil disobedience. And it has tens of thousands of seriously sick people behind it, who will holler loudly if they're forced back to the black market.

Indeed, there are some signs that Obama's crackdown will be what the SF Weekly's Chris Roberts calls a "Passive Aggressive" strategy. Rather than offend Americans with news footage of police raids, Obama has launched a war of attrition.

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19 comments
Stevetrn
Stevetrn

I tried to read the whole artical but I reconize bullshit when I read it.

Fabivillarre
Fabivillarre

It is unfortunate that the people who voted for this guy actually beleived in him. He is not God nor is he a leader, He is taking up residence as a president who has twist and turns in hos dealing with the American people. He needs to finish his term and get out of office or impeachment proceedings need to occur. He has already caused much damage, pain and suffering to the American people and the economy.

rbblum
rbblum

Almost as though Obama is wanting and willing to push for the fundamental transformation of the United States of America via a revolution (of his own making on one of several fronts).

4 Ron Paul
4 Ron Paul

The only person who makes sense is Ron Paul for president if u want cannabis leal 4 sure with no lies!

FUCKREPUBLICANS
FUCKREPUBLICANS

I Smoke Weed All Day Everyday Even In Jail We Be Blazin Up You Bitches!!! Fuck All Republicans!! Racist, Jesus Freak Ass Hypocrits!!! Fuck Obama Too If He Wanna Hate On Cannabis!! Bob Marley Should Rise Up Out The Grave And Slap The Shit Out This Dooky Dook!! Kooneechiwa Bitches!!!

Craigley
Craigley

War on Weed? It's just more of his lies to get elected.

Sadly, 99.0% of the HP Goobers voted for him.

MarlenaJohnson
MarlenaJohnson

Co-worker's aunt makes $79 hourly on the PC. She has been fired from work for 11 months but last month her paycheck was $6958 just working on the computer for a few hours. Read about it on this web site.... C a s h M a n y . c o m

MarlenaJohnson
MarlenaJohnson

Co-worker's aunt makes $79 hourly on the PC. She has been fired from work for 11 months but last month her paycheck was $6958 just working on the computer for a few hours. Read about it on this web site....http://alturl.com/a4ofg

Kirkmuse
Kirkmuse

Like millions of other voters, I voted for, campaigned for and donated to his campaighne for twobasic reasons:1. Candidate Obama said the war on drugs was an utter failure.2. Candidate Obama promised he would no go after medical marijuana users or their caregivers.

In 2012 I will do the same for his opponent.

Is Obama on the payroll of the Mexican drug cartels? Al capone had thousands of politicianson his payroll, including President Warren G. Harding, according Ken Burns' outstandingdocumentary: Prohibition.

rsteeb
rsteeb

If Haag, Obama, or anybody else thinks we are going to accept this tyranny, they must be smoking CRACK.

-Richard P Steeb, San Jose California

rip dvd to wmv
rip dvd to wmv

I can distinguish everything from your display name, you do get the right words on this!

Brent
Brent

Words of a true genius lol.

Nko
Nko

I hear ya

H_e_x
H_e_x

Are there any other candidates who would be any better in this respect?

Al
Al

The lesser of evils. Great.

H_e_x
H_e_x

So get off your lazy ass and do something. God damn, people bitch and complain, but god fucking forbid they actually do something about it. Yes, candidates from both parties share a lot in common, but there are some big differences. But no, it's easy to simply bitch and complain about "lesser evils."

 
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