Tag: Legality of cannabis

Wretched Hives Of … People Smoking

One of the claims made by the anti-pot crusaders — particularly government USA’s and DEA agents prosecuting legal medical marijuana clinics — is that pot shops are a magnet for crime. These claims have just been thrown out there with little evidence to back them up. But they’ve used to justify raiding pot shops, shutting them down, threatening landlords with asset forfeiture and other fun games our federal government likes to play.

Well, someone took a look at the, you know, facts:

A study published by the online journal PLOS One yesterday finds that adoption of medical marijuana laws is not associated with an increase in crime and may even result in fewer assaults and homicides. Robert G. Morris and three other University of Texas at Dallas criminologists looked at trends in homicide, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, larceny, and auto theft in the 11 states that legalized marijuana for medical use between 1990 and 2006. While crime fell nationwide during this period, it fell more sharply in the medical marijuana states, even after the researchers adjusted for various other differences between states. Morris and his colleagues suggest that the substitution of marijuana for alcohol could explain this result, although they caution that the extra reduction in crime might be due to a confounding variable they did not consider.

This is what legalization advocates have been arguing for years — that prohibition creates crime and criminals and that a legalized drug trade would drive down crime rates. In fact, this comports so closely to their claims that I’m actually reluctant to read too much into it. I want to see what other studies show — including studies of Colorado and Washington — before I draw any firm conclusions.

Despite my caution, I will say this is an encouraging finding. I don’t expect the Drug Warriors to acknowledge it (they would, of course, trumpet a study that claimed the opposite). We also have to see what the effects of legal pot shops are on use, addiction and other health outcomes. But it is both satisfying and enraging to see more evidence piling up that our decades-long experiment in prohibition was as big a disaster as we feared.

Sorry, but you can not have it both ways.

As several states have had voting measures pass and legalize pot smoking, and the Feds have still not come down like a ton of bricks on the tokers, there still remains some unsolved big issues. True, the fact that the Feds are not respecting the will of the people when states vote to legalize pot, is problematic, but it is far from the biggest issue IMO.

I believe MJ is here to stay, so now we better take a good look at the laws to protect those of us that are not going to be stoned out of our heads and are out there sharing everything with these people, just like we have for those consuming alcohol. I am not knocking tokers or drinkers. I don’t do drugs, but I have been known to drink occasionally. So I am quite familiar with the rules around drinking. Drinkers hate these rules, and it looks like tokers also hate the idea of strong rules.

(Reuters) – A judge on Friday rejected a request by a medical marijuana user to block Washington state from enforcing tougher “stoned driving” rules after it became one of the first U.S. states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.

Washington state voters last month approved marijuana legalization by a margin of 56 percent to 44 percent, making the state, along with Colorado, the first in the country to legalize recreational pot use.

Can’t say I am surprised, but I think this is a fight they need to lose. I am sure most tokers want to be thought of as responsible people, but there is a reason we can not ignore that we are inundated with such movies as “Harold and Kumar do whatever”, “Cheech and Chong so and so”, or a plethora of other film glorifying being stoned. As I mentioned long ago, I suspect that the nanny state is not going to let them do whatever they want because toking does cause impairment. Personally I would be content with laws that basically allow people wronged by anyone that causes harm while intoxicated to collect harsh damages, easily, with possible prison time for serial abusers, and then have the government keep to itself, but that’s never going to happen with the nanny staters. The only indentured servitude that the nanny state will tolerate these days is when people are serfs to it.

Then there is the subject of employment. Drug use currently, with a very few exceptions, is not something any employer allows. Legalization is certain to bring a lot of problems to employers.

DENVER (AP) — Pot may be legal, but workers may want to check with their boss first before they grab the pipe or joint during off hours.

Businesses in Washington state, where the drug is legal, and Colorado, where it will be by January, are trying to figure out how to deal with employees who use it on their own time and then fail a drug test.

It is another uncertainty that has come with pot legalization as many ask how the laws will affect them.

While I believe there are professions where being blasted out of your head won’t make a difference or harm anyone, the fact remains that the majority of jobs are going to suffer or be highly risky if done by high people. I certainly won’t like the DMV worker to be high when I am there, but I am not sure that is going to make the horrid DMV experience any worse. But if I have to share the road with stoned truck drivers, or for that matter, any kind of drivers, I think my rights are going to be violated, sooner than later. I certainly don’t want my dentist or doctor lit, either. The list of professionals or even menial workers that will introduce risk of degraded performance is going to be long, and I believe that if employers are going to be forced to provide jobs, they should be allowed to demand and enforce rules around how competent their employee needs to be. Dealing with a stoned kid at Subway might be cute the first couple of times. But when I need to wait 25 minutes for the drooler to make a sammich, and he has to try it a couple of times, I think I am going to stop frequenting that establishment.

My personal feeling is that the tokers have no clue how disappointed they are going to be when they realize they can not be blitzed all day long and hold jobs. Then again, Team Blue might consider this new demographic a valuable voter block once they are on welfare, so all is not lost. I don’t think the tokers are going to be quoting the famous Spacoli “Dude! Let’s party.” line, but are far more likely to be quoting the line by the tubby guy in Deliverance when the red necks got their hands on em. I am afraid that the people that think they won and they can light up with impunity are going to be hitting a few really nasty road bumps, still. This is going to be fun to watch. Or maybe not.

Another Pot Casualty

Woo-hoo! Another great victory in the War on Drugs:

Richard Flor died in a Las Vegas Bureau of Prisons medical facility on Wednesday.

Flor, 68, was just a few months into a five-year prison sentence for running a Billings, Montana marijuana dispensary with his wife and son. Flor also co-owned Montana Cannabis, one of the largest medical marijuana dispensaries in the state, and which was the subject of a March, 2011 federal raid. Montana legalized medical cannabis in 2004, but that doesn’t matter under federal law.

Flor’s wife got two years in prison for bookkeeping, and his son got five years for running the Billings dispensary. These were pleas entered and settled before the Department of Justice (DOJ) could make sure that medical marijuana went unmentioned in the court room.

Flor got to die in a cage with his wife and son in another cage and unable to say goodbye. But at least he wasn’t high! And at least we kept some pot out of the hands of … sick people who had gotten approval to use the drug!

There’s one particular aspect about this, though, that continues to burn me up and that is the effort (usually successful) to keep defendants from telling juries they were legally licensed by the state to grow and sell marijuana. The argument, given by the Assistant USA, is this:

“The intertwined subjects of medical marijuana, Montana law, and medical necessity have no relevance to determining whether the government has proven the crimes charged in the indictment,” Thaggard wrote in a legal brief. “Marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law . and can’t be dispensed under a prescription.”

I’m sure to a lot of lawyers, this sounds reasonable. To me, it sounds like lawyer bullshit. It especially sounds like lawyer bullshit because, as some of the defense attorneys in the case note, the federal government issued a public memo saying they would not prosecute people who were compliant with state law. They’ve done a flip-flop and prosecuted these people anyway. And it’s especially bullshit because it allows the federal prosecutors to portray people running legal licensed dispensaries as gangsters and thugs.

No, I don’t really think this is about whether state law is relevant to a federal case. I think is because federal prosecutors are filled with pants-shitting terror at the possibility of a nullification. They know that if a jury hears that the pot was being dispensed legally, they may refuse to enforce the federal law (as is a jury’s right. Jury nullification is legal and a proud American tradition.) They know this because juries who have convicted legal drug dispensers in federal court have been devastated when they found out the truth after the fact and have indicated that they would have nullified the federal law. This is about ambitious federal prosecutors making sure that no on can infringe on their ambitions. It’s about maintaining the fiction that we the citizen jurors have no option but to enforce the law, no matter how stupid, idiotic or unconstitutional it is.

There have been some attempts, from Ron Paul and Barney Frank to change this. However, they have gone nowhere because Congress is too chickenshit to show any mercy in the War on Drugs.

And so we can look forward to more men like Richard Flor dying in prison after being branded as felons. All for the horrible crime of trying to legally sell medicine to sick people.

Obama’s Pot Wars

At this point, blogging about Obama’s reprehensible approach to the marijuana issue is beating a dead roach. I’ve previously blogged on it here and here. But it seems like more people are catching on to his hypocrisy and promise-breaking. This week, Rolling Stone has a great article that is one-stop shopping for how far Obama is pushing the fight against legal marijuana.

But over the past year, the Obama administration has quietly unleashed a multi­agency crackdown on medical cannabis that goes far beyond anything undertaken by George W. Bush. The feds are busting growers who operate in full compliance with state laws, vowing to seize the property of anyone who dares to even rent to legal pot dispensaries, and threatening to imprison state employees responsible for regulating medical marijuana. With more than 100 raids on pot dispensaries during his first three years, Obama is now on pace to exceed Bush’s record for medical-marijuana busts. “There’s no question that Obama’s the worst president on medical marijuana,” says Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. “He’s gone from first to worst.”

The federal crackdown imperils the medical care of the estimated 730,000 patients nationwide – many of them seriously ill or dying – who rely on state-sanctioned marijuana recommended by their doctors. In addition, drug experts warn, the White House’s war on law-abiding providers of medical marijuana will only drum up business for real criminals.

It’s an absolute must-read. Each paragraph is more enraging than the last. What we’re seeing here is just how easy it was for the government to reverse the enlightened course it had followed in the late Bush years and early Obama years. About a year ago, the DEA decreed that medical marijuana had no legitimate purpose. And once that wall was breached, a million ambitious prosecutors and agents flooded through the gap. And now the hordes are stampeding over every law, every jurisdiction, every decent instinct. They are threatening not only the dispensaries but anyone who works with dispensaries — banks, landlords … even state regulators.

There are two possibilities here: either Obama, frustrated with Congress blocking his other initiatives, is acting because he wants to do something. Or he has lost control of his own government. Either way, our federal government is acting like a gang of thugs, shoving aside state law at every opportunity and using every tool in their arsenal to … let’s not forget this … keep sick people from smoking a joint, something hat 70% of the America public support.

And that’s the one glimmer of hope we have: the American public. No one is going to holding a protest and get hit by rubber bullets for pot. But our federal government is now so out of step with the public, so up it’s own ass with Drug War propaganda, that this … perhaps … is the thrashing of a dying monster. 70% support medical marijuana. Half support marijuana full stop. Full legalization barely missed in California. Two central American leaders called for legalization last week. Two of the Republican presidential nominees — including the #3 man in the polls — openly support legalization. It is not a taboo subject for anyone … anyone except Congress, that is.

The tide is turning. But the Drug War Monster is strong. It has seduced the law enforcement establishment. It has fed two million people — two fucking million — into our prison system. It provides easy propaganda to spineless politicians. It has all the power and all the guns. And now it’s reminding us of this.

PS: And while we’re on this subject, may I just take a moment to thank justices Stevens, Kennedy, Souter, Ginsberg, Breyer and Scalia, whose Constitution-shredding Raich v. Ashcroft decision opened the door for all this? You see what you twits unleashed with your sophistry? Here was what Lee had to say at the time, in response to Stevens saying the issue should be decide by Congress:

Hey, Stevens, you dick. I agree with you in principle, that the best solution to issues is usually through the democratic process. But the court system exists for a reason, and it’s to restrain government power over the rights of the individual. In this case, ten states have, through the democratic process you think is so neato, chosen to permit sick people to use marijuana to alleviate their pain, yet you decided to crap all over that by ruling that a guy who grows a plant in his house for his own personal use is somehow covered by Congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce.

Basically this is a huge green light for Congress to basically do whatever the fuck it likes if it can somehow, in some way, sorta, kinda tie it in to interstate commerce. Our highest court just sold us out. And Scalia, fucking Scalia, the one true federalist on the court, actually sided with the majority in this idiocy. I’m just disgusted by the whole thing.

All you social conservatives, remember this the next time you piss and moan about some liberal activist court. This decision is the LITERAL DEFINITION of judicial activism.

Lee was a fucking Cassandra on a lot of this stuff. It’s take seven years, but the full power of our federal government has now being turned against the people of 17 states.

We The People

Obama is running for re-election now, so it’s time to drum up his populist support. To that end, his staff have launched a site called We the People, which allows the public to submit petitions online. If any get over 5,000 signatures, they’ll be forwarded to the President for an “official response”, which I’m guessing means they’ll stimulate the economy as discount toilet paper.

(Actually, I suspect the purpose is to get mailing lists, as you need an official Whitehouse.gov account to sign.)

Anyway, someone at the White House is clearly not familiar with this whole internet thing. You can get 5000 people to sign up for anything. I guarantee I could get 5000 signatures asking the President to wear a cheerleader outfit at press conferences. And that would probably have a greater likelihood of happening than what’s leading the pack:

Days into its launch, there are already eight petitions that will warrant a response from the White House per its own rules. The site appears to have attracted civil libertarians, pro-marijuana advocates, and atheists. The most popular petition with almost 20,000 signatures petitions the gov to “Legalize and Regulate Marijuana in a Manner Similar to Alcohol.” The petitioner writes: “Marijuana prohibition has resulted in the arrest of over 20 million Americans since 1965, countless lives ruined and hundreds of billions of tax dollars squandered and yet this policy has still failed to achieve its stated goals of lowering use rates, limiting the drug’s access, and creating safer communities. Isn’t it time to legalize and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol?”

A petition created yesterday calling for the abolition of the TSA has already garnered over 7,000 signatures.

Those numbers are now up to 37,000 and 21,000. And this understates the case. Four more petitions on marijuana have over 10,000 votes each. Also trending high is the Sholom Rubashkin case, removing “Under God” from the pledge and ending software patents.

As I said, the President would ignore this anyway. But he’ll doubly ignore it now that pot is leading the charge. This President is turning out to be a major drug warrior and, considering his own history, a first class hypocrite. He’s laughed when this question has come up before because apparently ruining people’s lives, raiding legal clinics and taking relief away from people dying of cancer is funny. Personally I don’t find it amusing that 90% of pot busts in NYC are of black people even when they’re not smoking 90% of the pot. But if SWAT teams busting down people’s doors makes Obama giggle, that’s his problem.

However, reading through the list makes me proud of my fellow netizens. Almost every petition can be sorted into the “Get the fuck off my lawn” category of political thought. The most popular “gimme gimme gimme!” petition is one calling for mandatory spay-and-neuter laws. I’d be fine with that if it were applied to politicians, but they apparently want to apply it to animals. Well, other animals. More ethical animals.

Fixing the Fed on Pot

This will go nowhere. But I’m glad it’s at least being proposed:

A group of US representatives plan to introduce legislation that will legalize marijuana and allow states to legislate its use, pro-marijuana groups said Wednesday.

The legislation would limit the federal government’s role in marijuana enforcement to cross-border or inter-state smuggling, and allow people to legally grow, use or sell marijuana in states where it is legal.

The bill, which is expected to be introduced on Thursday by Republican Representative Ron Paul and Democratic Representative Barney Frank, would be the first ever legislation designed to end the federal ban on marijuana.

My reading of this is that it would pull the leash on the DEA, making them enforce laws in states that want to keep pot illegal but leaves states alone that legalize it. I would prefer to also see language instructing the IRS to allow legal pot businesses to deduct expenses; one of the many insidious ways the Feds are attacking legal marijuana is taxing the shit out of distributors.

There is little chance this will pass. There are too many federal agents whose livelihoods depend on cracking down on pot and the issue is far too easy to demagogue. But I hope it will get to a floor vote. I want all the faux-federalists and pretend civil libertarians to show exactly what kind of political cowards they are. I want Barack Obama, in opposing it, to show what a hypocrite he is and what a huge lie he told in the 2008 campaign. I hope this gets introduced every year so that pressure and momentum will build.

This is the right thing to do. And it tells you how broken our Congress is that it takes fucking Barney Frank and Ron Paul to even suggest it.