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Federal Government Threatens to Undermine Voter-Approved Initiatives to Legalize Marijuana

U.S. Senior White House and Justice Department officials are considering plans to reverse the recent election victories in Washington and Colorado that legalized cannabis for adult recreational use.

Voters in Washington and Colorado recently made American history by becoming the first two states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults over 21. 

By so doing, voters believed that they be would freeing up state law enforcement to deal with violent crimes, reallocate precious tax dollars for education and healthcare, collect valuable new tax revenue to boost the money-strapped state economies, and make a lot of people really happy.

This long-awaited, sane and civilized approach to regulating marijuana like alcohol and tobacco is finally coming to fruition, so everyone should be lighting up a spliff and celebrating, right?

Well, just about everyone, except for the grumpy folks on Capital Hill, who aren’t smoking any of those giggly flowers to celebrate, and, in fact, seem dead set on trying to rain on everyone’s parade.

President Obama recently said to ABC news correspondent Barbara Walters, “It would not make sense for us to see a top priority as going after recreational users in states that have determined that it’s legal.” 

However, President Obama said pretty much the same thing about medical marijuana patients in California, and then his administration pursued the closure of medical cannabis dispensaries in California more aggressively than any previous presidential administration in U.S. history.

It seems likely that the Obama Administration may try raiding cannabis farmer’s markets in Washington and Colorado, or possibly suing the states themselves, if they try and collect revenue from the sale of cannabis.

Senior federal government officials have stated that they are considering taking legal action to undermine the voter-approved initiatives to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Washington and Colorado. 

According to New York Times reporter Charlie Savage, the federal government is considering several options.

One strategy being considered is to arrest several low-level cannabis users in Colorado and Washington, wait for the defendants to make a motion to dismiss the case because the plant is now legal in the state, and then obtain a court ruling that federal law trumps state law.

Other strategies would include the Justice Department filing lawsuits against Washington and Colorado that would seek to prevent them from setting up systems to regulate and tax cannabis, or to cut off their federal grants, unless they comply with federal marijuana prohibition.

These heavy-handed maneuvers would clearly be a slap in the face to the democratic process, as not only did voters overwhelmingly approve these initiatives, but a recent Gallop poll revealed that the majority of Americans now believe that marijuana prohibition should end, and that the persecuted plant should be regulated like alcohol and tobacco.

If the federal government succeeds in gutting the new state laws, and undermining the democratic process in Washington and Colorado, they will essentially be serving the interests of foreign drug cartels--as, ironically, all this would do is prevent the states from reaping tax benefits.

President Obama told ABC that he doesn’t support broader legalization of marijuana “at this point,” despite the fact that we supposedly live in  democracy, the majority of American citizens support legalization, and the scientific evidence confirms that cannabis use doesn’t present any significant threat to pubic health.

The scientific evidence strongly suggests that cannabis not only reduces dangerous stress levels in the body, with few, if any, negative side-effects, but that it may help to significantly reduce the risk of cancer and brain damage.

“What we’re going to need to have is a conversation about this,” President Obama said.

A conversation? This response sounds a little like “we still need more research,” which the U.S. government  has been saying  now for years about medical marijuana, despite abundant research that’s overflowing with evidence for its many medical benefits and safety. 

Ironically, many of these studies emerged internationally, as--despite the U.S. federal government’s repeated calls for more research, they have, in fact, made deliberate attempts attempt to block any marijuana studies that don’t demonstrate negative effects, by maintaining a monopoly on the supply of research cannabis in the U.S.

President Obama said that the question is “how do you reconcile a federal law that still says marijuana is a federal offense and state laws that say that it’s legal?”

That doesn’t sound like a very tough question to me, if we lived in democracy, and respected state rights.

However, I realize that President Obama has a lot of campaign supporters that have publicly expressed their attempts to criminalize cannabis users--the alcohol industry, the prison-industrial complex, and the pharmaceutical industry--so I sympathize with his position.

President Obama, this is my heartfelt plea to you.

You were once a committed cannabis smoker yourself, and it didn’t harm you. You became president of the United States. 

Many young African Americans get caught up in the criminal-justice system, because of their use of cannabis, and are not so lucky. These people deserve a chance to live the American dream, just like you.

Please, for the good of the American people, end the injustice and legalize cannabis today.

You  have the power to end marijuana prohibition under the Controlled Substances Act. You can do it today, if you believed in heading to the democratic will of the people, with a single executive order. 

To learn more about about cannabis legalization see:

http://www.mpp.org/

http://norml.org/

http://ssdp.org/

http://www.drugpolicy.org/

If you enjoy my column, and want to learn more about psychedelic and cannabis culture, “like” my Facebook page:

www.facebook.com/pages/David-Jay-Brown/115740098445882?ref=ts

and follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/DavidJayBrown

David Jay Brown January 07, 2013 at 02:04 AM
Yes, Michael, you're right, a true democracy has yet exist on our wayward planet, the U.S. has a representative government, not a democracy, and at a federal level, federal law supersedes state law. However, according to the California Constitution, when state and federal law contract one another, agents of the state are supposed to be bound by state law, not federal law. According to the California Constitution, our law enforcement agents in California are supposed to be protecting us from federal raids, and certainly not cooperating with them. Nowhere in the U.S. Constitution does it say that the government is allowed to protect us from harming ourselves, assuming that this is the genuine motivation behind cannabis prohibition (although I highly suspect otherwise). Our representatives have criminalized cannabis use through an interpretation of the intestate commerce laws, which were never intended for such a thing. Our Supreme Court determined that the Marijuana Tax Act was unconstitutional in 1968, so Richard Nixon tried to find a way to arrest antiwar protesters, and thus created The Controlled Substances Act. This is not an amendment to the Constitution, as alcohol prohibition was, but rather a bizarre interpretation of interstate commerce laws, and it has become a way to create a huge slave labor pool by arresting poor minorities.
David Jay Brown January 07, 2013 at 02:09 AM
To say that "We cannot judge the government we have by the government we wish we had" is to accept that we're powerless, and don't have the ability to change things. I think that it's of utmost importance that we continually judge our government by the standards of what we think might be better, so that we continually learn, improve, grow, and evolve. For the first time in human history, human beings now have the capacity for a genuine democracy. I say, get rid of all of the representatives in Washington, bulldoze over the White House, and erect a giant crystal pyramid in it's place, that houses a super-super-computer. Then, set up free computer stations in every city, that allow every citizen to vote on every issue, after demonstrating that they have educated themselves on the issue, by passing a brief test. This would allow everyone to participate in the governmental process, and it would be the beginning of a true democracy, for the first time in human history.
Frank Geefay January 24, 2013 at 08:49 AM
Sorry for the late comments. I didn't see this comment until today. Interesting idea, a true democracy by computers. I would like to see how people can "demonstrating that they have educated themselves on the issue, by passing a brief test." Even lawyers, legislators and Supreme Court justices have difficulty understanding and interpreting many laws. How are the masses going to understand them? I'm sure such a proposal will be extremely unpopular among our legislators. They would all have to find real jobs.
Tetra Hydro January 27, 2013 at 04:21 PM
i AGREE TO DISAGREE Washington and Colorado are the first 2 states to legalize COMPLETELY. BTW there are only 4900 us agents in dea and us marshall's office that is not even 1/3 of the population in a city let alone a state which is another reason why prohibition with alcohol was defeated.
Tetra Hydro January 27, 2013 at 04:21 PM
The Tenth Amendment states the Constitution's principle of federalism by providing that powers not granted to the federal government by the Constitution, nor prohibited to the States, are reserved to the States or the people.

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