The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing Tuesday regarding “Conflicts Between State and Federal Marijuana Laws.” The Justice Department announced on August 29 that it will not seek to stop Colorado and Washington from moving forward with implementation of voter-approved laws establishing state-regulated systems of marijuana cultivation and retail sales.
The truly amazing part was that the majority of those called to testify were in support of the DOJ policy. This included King County Sheriff John Urquhart of Washington and Jack Finlaw, chief legal counsel for Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. The only people who seemed to disagree with the DOJ not getting in the way of these states enacting the will of their voters were Sen. Chuck Grassley and Kevin Sabet, one of the founders of the disingenuous Project SAM.
MPP is taking issue with former Congressman Patrick Kennedy’s plan to force marijuana consumers into treatment and marijuana “education” classes, which his new organization, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), is scheduled to unveil in Denver on Thursday.
“The proposal is on par with forcing every alcohol user into treatment at their own cost or at a cost to the state,” said MPP communications director Mason Tvert. “In fact, it would be less logical because the science is clear that marijuana is far less toxic, less addictive, and less likely to be associated with acts of violence.”
MPP is calling on Kennedy, whose family made a fortune selling alcohol, to explain why he wants to keep an objectively less harmful alternative to alcohol illegal. Specifically, MPP is asking Kennedy to address the question on SAM’s website and provide facts regarding the relative harms of marijuana and alcohol. MPP also launched an online petition this morning asking Kennedy to provide an explanation or resign as chairman of SAM, which received more than 1,500 signatures within the first hour of being posted – http://chn.ge/13e9Qjl
“Former Congressman Kennedy’s proposal is the definition of hypocrisy,” Tvert said. “He is living in part off of the fortune his family made by selling alcohol while leading a campaign that makes it seem like marijuana – an objectively less harmful product – is the greatest threat to public health.”
“If this group truly cares about public health, it should be providing the public with facts regarding the relative harms of marijuana and discouraging the use of the more harmful product,” Tvert continued. “Why on earth would they want keep a less harmful alternative to alcohol illegal? Former Congressman Kennedy and his organization should answer this question before calling on our government to start forcing people into treatment programs and throwing them into marijuana ‘education’ camps.”
The organization, which claims such anti-marijuana zealots as Kevin Sabet and David Frum as members, purports to represent a moderate “third way” of marijuana policy that is supposedly a compromise between legalization and prohibition. The reality is that a well-regulated and taxed system to control cultivation and sale of marijuana is the truly moderate position between total unregulated legalization and the failed policies that constitute the government’s war on marijuana.
Leave it to prohibitionists to inaccurately frame a debate!
After the recent federal crackdown on medical marijuana in California, advocates are understandably upset and want to show it. This week, they took their complaints right to the top, with hundreds of people turning out to protest President Obama in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Shortly after this, however, the U.S. Attorneys in charge of the California crackdown said that the Obama administration had nothing to do with it.
According to a statement made by California Eastern District spokesperson Lauren Horwood prior to these protests, “California U.S. Attorneys decided to take action on their own because the situation has grown out of control among recreational users. But she acknowledges they received Obama’s blessing.” (quote from original author paraphrasing Horwood) After a massive outcry, and after protests specifically targeted at Obama, the story changed.
“What I said, or at least meant to say, was that the U.S. Attorneys in California saw the need for coordinated enforcement actions and spoke with folks in Main Justice in D.C. (not the Obama Administration),” she told the Huffington Post in an email.
Okay, so who at Main Justice is responsible?
According to Horwood, approval came from Deputy Attorney General James Cole, author of the Cole Memo that said only individual medical marijuana patients should expect to be left alone by federal law enforcement, not growers or distributors. Cole, however, seemed to be awfully uncomfortable talking about this for being the person directly responsible and lobbed the blame back to the U.S. Attorneys in California when asked if other medical marijuana states should expect this type of enforcement.
Okay, so is it really the California U.S. Attorneys who are responsible? Wait, no.
Kevin Sabet, former senior policy advisor for the Office of National Drug Control Policy, was not as uncomfortable answering that question, however. “Remember, all actions have to be approved by Attorney General Holder, so it’s hard to imagine that California would be the only place the Department of Justice is focusing on,” Sabet said.
So now the blame is on Holder?
Why can’t we get a straight answer from these people?
Whatever the reasoning for the crackdown, it appears that everyone is trying to draw responsibility away from the men at the top, but not allow it to be put solely on themselves either. After seeing the outrage of medical marijuana supporters in California this week, perhaps the president realized that this sort of interference is alienating his base. And while Attorney General Holder is surely thankful that this issue is distracting people from the fact that the DOJ and ATF provided Mexican drug cartels with assault rifles for two years, he certainly doesn’t need any more blame for unpopular decisions heaped upon him when he is under the gun. And the U.S. Attorneys certainly don’t want to look like they are going rogue, but direct popular anger at their bosses.
We are basically left with two options: either Obama is knowingly breaking his campaign promise to leave medical marijuana alone, or he has completely lost control of the Department of Justice.
And unless the former is true, everyone in the chain of command has the power to stop this wasteful insanity and allow states to run their medical marijuana programs free from unwanted federal interference.
The buck stops with all of them.
We’ve all heard the rhetoric, trotted out again and again by law enforcement and paranoid city officials, that dispensaries and other marijuana facilities cause crime wherever they are. They focus on a horror story and blame the dispensary regardless of the facts at hand. They point to media coverage of similar incidents and say that all dispensaries are blights on the community.
Now, the media and the authorities are very good at using scare tactics, but what they consistently lack are statistical data to support their claims. This is because there is no such data.