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Feature: Obama's Appointees Raise Questions in the Drug Reform Community

Like other interest groups, the drug reform movement has the Obama transition under a microscope, searching for clues on the new administration's intentions as it scrutinizes those appointments for positions that are going to be key to advancing the cause. Some of the Obama transition team's early moves have some drug reformers sounding alarm bells, but other reformers -- not so much.

http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/files/ericholder.jpg
Eric Holder -- not the reformer's dream pick
Drug reformers were not particularly enthralled with Obama's vice-president selection, Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), who made a career authoring drug war legislation. Biden can rightfully claim to be the father of the drug czar's office, he was a big fan of harsh sentencing laws, he crafted the horrid RAVE Act. Never encountering a "drug problem" that couldn't be fixed with another federal criminal law, Biden most recently authored a bill that would criminalize being on board a home-made submarine carrying drugs.

While Biden may have begun to see the light in recent years -- he is author of one of the best bills seeking to address the crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity (which he helped create) -- drug reformers remain deeply suspicious of a man who built a political power base on the shoulders of the assembled ranks of law enforcement.

Nor did the appointment of Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) as White House chief of staff alleviate concerns. While the sharp-elbowed political operative has not been a leading drug warrior, neither has he shied from using drug war discourse as a weapon against his political foes.

One oft-cited example of Emanuel's penchant for drug war rhetoric came a decade ago, when he defended the Clinton administration's unconstitutional effort to punish physicians who recommended medical marijuana to patients. "We are going to continue to find ways within the administration to fight legalization and the notion of legalization," he said in an interview. "We're against the message that [California's medical marijuana initiative] sends to children," Emanuel demagogued. (Emanuel, now a member of Congress, did vote for the pro-medical marijuana Hinchey amendment in July of last year.)

This week's announcement that former Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder would be nominated for the Attorney General post did little to allay mounting fears that Obama was filling key positions for drug policy with Clinton-era drug war holdovers. Some were quick to point to Holder's time as US Attorney for the District of Columbia, when he pushed through changes in DC's marijuana laws that made sales a felony instead of a misdemeanor.

As the Washington Post reported:

In addition, US Attorney Eric H. Holder Jr. said in an interview that he is considering not only prosecuting more marijuana cases but also asking the DC Council to enact stiffer penalties for the sale and use of marijuana. "We have too long taken the view that what we would term to be minor crimes are not important," Holder said, referring to current attitudes toward marijuana use and other offenses such as panhandling.

Holder said he hopes to discourage some of that activity by being tougher on marijuana crimes. New guidelines should be in place by the end of the month, he said, noting that the District could learn from New York's "zero-tolerance" policy. There, crime plummeted when police aggressively enforced quality-of-life crimes, including panhandling and public drinking, which gave officers an opportunity to check for drugs, guns and outstanding warrants.

That same year, he told the Washington Times he was considering proposing a mandatory-minimum 18-month sentence for any marijuana sales. That, at least, didn't happen.

Drug reformers took some small solace, however, from Holder's comments on mandatory minimum sentencing in a 1999 interview. Responding to a question about whether it was time to review mandatory minimums, Holder said:

I do not think that we should ever foreclose the possibility that we take a look at how the laws that we have passed are working. I tend to think that mandatory minimum sentences that deal with people who commit violent crimes are almost always good things. I think the concerns are generally raised about mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders. And I think there are some questions that we ought to ask.

I do not go into it with a presumption that they're necessarily bad, but we ought to look at the statistics and see, are we putting in prison, are we using our limited prison space for the kind of people that we want to have there? Are the sentences commensurate with the kind of conduct that puts people in jail for these mandatory minimum sentences?

Those are the kinds of questions I think that we ought to ask. And as thinking legislators on both sides, Republicans and Democrats, liberal and conservative, I would hope that we would ask those questions and then go into it with an open mind.

With drug war cheerleaders like Biden and Emanuel and professional drug warriors like Holder being invited to join the Obama team, drug reformers are understandably skittish. But most are taking a wait and see attitude, even as they bemoan some of Obama's choices.

"Some of the appointments, such as Holder, are certainly concerning," said Bruce Mirken, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project. "There is some problematic stuff in the past, yes, but people do change and learn. Who would have thought that a drug warrior like Bob Barr would end up as a Libertarian?" Mirken asked. "I don't think that because somebody said or did something we disagreed with a decade ago, he is necessarily bound to those same positions now, but we will be watching closely. If the time comes to freak out, we will, but it's premature to freak out now."

The reform community should not be freaking out, agreed Eric Sterling, who served as counsel to the House Judiciary Committee in the 1980s and now heads the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation. Instead, it should be trying to flex its muscles.

"I think the reform community is way overreacting and, more importantly, not taking the initiative," he said "Reform leaders ought to be asking themselves what letters they've written to President-elect Obama, what letters to the editor they've penned, what op-eds they've submitted. Is the movement doing anything other than passively reacting?" he asked.

"Our movement has been under such assault for the past eight years that we're really out of practice in being effective political actors," Sterling argued. "I just contacted [the left-leaning magazine] In These Times suggesting an article about taxing marijuana as a way to prevent the lay-off of public employees. Our movement should be reaching out to people like the public employee unions, maybe buying ads saying 'No teacher should be fired until the legislature tells us how many legal marijuana could pay for.'"

"What you can say about Emanuel and these other people is that they are political and will respond to pressure," said Sterling. "If Emanuel thought our issues were good politics, he would be standing on the ramparts, but it's not good politics because we haven't made it good politics. It's not enough to mobilize the drug reform aficionados, we have to be working with much more powerful organizations and interest groups around issues they care about. The dire situation with the economy right now and the lack of revenues for state and local governments is a tremendous opportunity for us, exactly like 1933 in that sense. What did they do then? They ended Prohibition and taxed alcohol."

Marijuana does not enjoy the same cultural favor that alcohol did, Sterling noted, but that can be overcome. "We need to frame the issue in very stark economic terms. We need to be asking who is going to teach our kids? How are we going to pay for teachers? If the state taxing marijuana is the only way to pay for teachers, should we do it? That marijuana isn't going anywhere. It's still going to be smoked, whether we tax it or not. Why don't we benefit from it?"

"Drug policy reform has its work cut out for it," said Kevin Zeese, a long-time reformer who doubts either major party is ready for fundamental change. "The best we can hope for is a little benign neglect, and that they not continue to waste law enforcement resources on medical marijuana providers in states that allow it."

Given the plateful of problems facing the incoming administration and the state of the drug reform movement, a big push on drug policy on the federal level is unlikely, Zeese argued. "We should be working locally to continue to build momentum and a real movement," he said, suggesting that "benign neglect" could come into play. "If the reform movement continues to push state and local initiatives, I think the Obama administration will stay out of those conflicts. I don't think we'll see the drug czar flying off to different states to campaign against initiatives, and that would be a good thing."

A big push for drug reform is not only unlikely, it may be unwise at this time, Zeese suggested. "The caution Obama brings to the job, and Biden and Emanuel's histories present some room for us to maneuver, but it may be best not to poke the sleeping bear with a stick. We don't want to wake up the criminal justice advocates in the federal government. Benign neglect is better than abuse. Perhaps we should just work under the radar and allow their political caution to work for us, instead of against us."

While Zeese could tick off the bad drug policy stances of some of Obama's newly-forming inner circle, he suggested that those stances were based more on political calculations than ideological enthusiasm. "As chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Biden aligned himself with police and prosecutors -- that is his criminal justice base, that's where the power and safety is. Emanuel was a clear architect of the crime control acts under Clinton that increased police numbers and lengthened sentences. But both these guys are essentially political animals and will take what looks like a hard line to neutralize an issue."

One area that could be an early indicator of the Obama administration's drug reform proclivities is the ongoing DEA raids against California medical marijuana providers. Obama vowed during the campaign to halt those raids. But the big news there could be that there is no news.

"We expect that Obama will keep his promise about ending the raids in California," said MPP's Mirken. "There are plenty of reasons for him to do so, including Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Michigan -- all states that had gone Republican, but that he carried. Whatever else you think about Obama and his team, they can count, and it's hard for me to imagine that they think it is in their interest to continue a war against a quarter of the country, most of whom voted for him," he said.

"That doesn't have to happen in dramatic fashion, you don't have to hold a press conference, it could just be something that happens quietly," said Mirken. "It may be awhile before anyone really sees for sure that a change has occurred. And that's fine -- we don't need a press conference as long as he stops arresting patients and caregivers."

"Obama is no doubt already thinking about a second term and doesn't want to make drug policy reform an issue of conflict with Republicans," said Zeese. "He will play it safe, but there is some opportunity for us there, and I think ending the raids is one of the things he could make happen. He'd prefer not to have medical marijuana patients and advocates angry at him in places like California and Oregon."

"I think he will stop the raids," said Sterling. "I don't see how the raids are helpful to him unless the Republicans are able to gin up some anger about providers, so it would be wise to stay low-key and continue to work with state and local officials so it is not controversial at the local level. But if it becomes controversial, and the Republicans are able to make it an issue, then Obama will be against us. We need to stay under the radar on this right now."

While reformers watch to see what does and doesn't happen regarding the DEA raids -- will they just quietly vanish into that long good night? -- there is still plenty of work to do, said Sterling. "We have to build the movement. We keep seeing the same 300 people at the conferences, maybe 1,000 if you're talking about the harm reduction conferences. No one is going door to door in the black community talking about how the drug war is undermining public safety and its relationship with the police. No one is talking to the unions. We've done well on the education part of our issue, but we haven't done well in developing a political power base, and until we do that, we won't get reform."

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

We Won't Get Fooled Again

I can almost hear "The Who" singing "We Won't Get Fooled Again" in the background. First let me say I have a lot of respect for both Zeese and Sterling, who I have talked to numerous times over the years. But their unending compunction to tolerate "compromised solution" can no longer be tolerated.

Then their is Kampia, the head of MPP. When I inquired about funding for a concurrent effort for complete legalization a MPP spokesperson told me that MPP would not support such an effort. Of course they wouldn't because once Marijuana DOES become legal, especially under the MERP Mode, there will be no further reason to have MPP. They know, in their heart of hearts that Re-Legalization means their end. So instead they continuously catch the football and immediately run it backwards or out of bounds. They aren't really interested in ending the Drug War, they are interested in keeping their useless jobs. Finally beginning to get it?

The truth of the matter is that America, much less the world, is now ripe to consider Marijuana Re-Legalization. And in about a month I will be releasing a strategy to Re-Legalize, under the MERP Model, by May 1st, 2009.

While there are many good arguments for Re-Legalization I believe the most underused yet most persuasive is that it will destroy the Mexican Drug Cartels and Inner City Drug activity without firing a single shot. This in turn will expose the parasites -- Drug Testing Labs, Police Departments, City Governments, International Banks -- that continue to profit from this absurd policy.

If you are ready for this change get on my mailing list at:

www.newagecitizen.com

I do believe I can hear the Stones "Streetfighting Man" playing in the background now.

"Hey! think the time is right for a palace revolution
But where I live the game to play is compromise solution
Well, then what can a poor boy do
Except to sing for a rock n roll band
cause in sleepy london town
Theres no place for a street fighting man"

That's much better.

Once we decide to change our minds, we can change the world.

Bruce W. Cain
Editor, New Age Citizen
www.newagecitizen.com

For more on my views about MERP and the ending of the War on Marijuana check out these links:

Drug Policy
===========
Marijuana: Past, Present and Future from Bruce Cain on Vimeo.
http://www.vimeo.com/2056650

Why Lou Dobbs Should Support Marijuana Legalization
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VKf5YfQb7s&

The MERP Project
The Marijuana Re-Legalization Policy (MRP) Project

http://www.newagecitizen.com/ReLegalization01.htm
http://www.newagecitizen.com/editorial_on_the_marijuana_re.htm

Bruce W. Cain Discusses the MERP Model, for Marijuana Relegalization, with "Sense and Sensimilla"
http://senseandsensi.libsyn.com/index.php?post_id=270029

Video Biography of Bruce W. Cain
http://www.newagecitizen.com/Videos.htm

The "Hemp Song" by Bruce W. Cain
http://www.newagecitizen.com/AudioFiles/HempSongGnosticRaw.mp3

"Rainbow Farm" and instrumental dedicated to Tom Crosslin who was
murdered at Rainbow Farm a week before 9/11 (09/11/2001)
http://www.newagecitizen.com/AudioFiles/RainbowFarm%20050202.mp3

How Continuing the Drug War could make Nuclear Terrorism a Reality
by Bruce W. Cain
http://www.newagecitizen.com/Editorials/v8n1NuclearTerrorism.htm

Truth Is Treason... In the Kingdom of Lies!

I agree with you Bruce... being a free thinker and libertarian for over 30 years... it's impossible not to.

Your Re-legalization, MERP Project/Plan, is far superior and advantages to individuals, and the economy, then the 'tax & regulate' plan... that our democratic allies and their lawyers seem to prefer!

Re-legalization vs. Compromised Solution?
For me the answer is simple: Re-legalize or be judged and go to prison for perjury and human rights violations.

Always remember we are not the criminals... the prohibitionists are... and it is they... if anyone... that belong in prison.

Just say no.... to 70 more years of drug war failure... and fighting guns with pens.

How To Make A Movement Impotent

At this point, I'm going to have to agree with Bruce. I have been an Internet Activist for Marijuana Reform for 12 years, and a member of NORML and MPP for almost that long. There is something very wrong with our movement. From both of these "leadership" orgs,. I have never received any communication other than pleas for money or sending e-mails to politicians. There has GOT to be a more effective way to organize the 30 to 50 million marijuana consumers, plus their friends, family, and people who are enlightened enough to see the persecution of marijuana consumers is critically damaging to the whole country (see Julian Heicklen).

Before the election, NORML was advising everyone that, though Obama wasn't talking about marijuana, he was our best hope. Viewing his nominations, that apparently wasn't true. Imagine if every marijuana consumer had gotten behind Ralph Nader or Dennis Kucinich. While 50 million votes would not have won the election, it would have been IMPOSSIBLE to ignore.

The time for waiting is over. The more we wait, the more the corporatocracy pushes us into fascism.

Desperately needed: Some REAL leadership for marijuana reform!

~ John Thomas

Kidden me?

Nader, or Kucinich didn't hold a match to the real earth shaker, the only one who openly said he would leagalize, and end this haunting war on US. That one person was pounded harder for his stance to return to the constitution and the order of it's law's....including the ending of the war on drug's, and personal freedom and right's, and we let it slip through our fingers without so much as a wail of "Play fair". Ron Paul was our last hope of the return of this government to it's rightful hairs "The people of the republic!" I watched as the slanted news anchors lied to our faces, and was abhored that we remained silent. Ron Paul scared the power base of this nation, because he advocated the return of power to the people, and put their monopoly to an end, and they would not have it, and we did not stand up to it. All is lost now....and all we can do is wait and see. Try to do anything else and watch and see what will happen to you. We have entered waters unchartered by this nation to date, and I believe that it is too late. The people don't care until they come knocking on their door...so long as it's just you, those in power will finish what they started when Reagan came to power....The New World Order!
D.L.Matkins Sr.

brilliant, absolutely

brilliant, absolutely correct. but, i fear the average stoner is too paranoid to come out of the closet or too damn lethargic to vote or organize. but it's not about getting high and listening to pink floyd. it's about revitalizing our poorest regions (i live in kentucky- the tobacco 'embargo' has rendered our fields empty) and just GIVING US OUR FUCKING RIGHTS.

I want GRASS-roots efforts to produce a GREEN economy by legalizing hemp/marijuana. I have written my congressmen (state and fed) as well as Obama- numerous times. I use my real name, and I vote my support. I have joined NORML. The aguments are out there. They are numerous, correct and well-founded in truth and logic. Stop being afraid and INSIST, as an American citizen that this failed war on pot be ended. THE POLITICIANS WORK FOR US and if they fail, WE FIRE THEM.

http://my.barackobama.com/page/group/ObamaSupportersforMarijuanaLawReform

There are three groups that I know of on mybarackobama.com advocating legalization. The link above is to one of them. Join them.

More on Eric Holder

http://www.dunwalke.com/14_Enforcement_Terrorism.htm

Fast forward to Chapter 14, find his picture then read the paragraph to the left of Frank Hunger's picture.

Obama = Change?

Geesh, gimme a break. With him in place, this drug war will never end. The masses were duped again. Not me. I made the decision a good number of years ago to never in good conscience vote for either major party, ever again.

Actually, if you take the time, that entire dunwlake link and insight into Washington by Catherine Austin Fitts is well worth the read. It "proved" what I've suspected for a long time...they're (DEMS/REPS) all in cahoots.

Lord help us.

Thank you Bruce Cain

I agree with you 100%. I have been involved in re legalization efforts for the last 20 years. Many of the 'pro' marijuana laws and legislation language has been written with complete disregard for the consumers. When AMR and MPP came to Colorado they met with about 20 of us who have been educating the public for years (those of us who are a good part of the reason Colorado 'ranked' so ripe in MPP's polls for re legalization), and we had lists of concerns on the language--and they disregarded everything we said.

Since when does 3 flowering plants equal 2 ounces of dry medicine at harvest? Are we expected to throw away anything more than 2 ounces---And why only 2 ounces for sick people when Colorado law states 8 ounces (NON MEDICINAL) is only a misdemeanor. Why wasn't transportation or compassion clubs addressed even after we begged they address them.

No the people with the money run the show. It was out of state money and out of state activists moved out here to run MPP's agenda---and their agenda is not for the best of Coloradans, it's best for them. I have often doubted MPP or NORMAL to even being on the side I am on---a true re legalization activist. I do respect Zeese and Sterling, but for our sake---WE MUST be loud. We have been quiet for too long. Kucinich was my man. I settled on Nader but would have gone Paul if our state had that option. These three noble men would have ended the war on DRUGS, NOT JUST CANNABIS, on day ONE! There was no hoping or settling with Obama, Biden, both CFR, for me.

We need to expect more, not less of ourselves. This is the longest war in American history. It needs to END in 2009.

Response to Eric Sterling

Marijuana does not enjoy the same cultural favor that alcohol did, Sterling noted, but that can be overcome.

Is it necessary for marijuana to become as culturally accepted as alcohol to achieve a regulated marijuana market??

Marijuana has been used for thousands of years and has yet to become as culturally favored as alcohol in any society. The reason is simply that most people do not enjoy marijuana's effects as they do "liquid courage." A prime example is that in the Netherlands the public has the opportunity to consume both legally but fewer of them use marijuana than in the US but more of them drink alcohol than Americans do. The reason they decided to regulate marijuana sales was to prevent the meth and heroin dealers from exploiting the market and spreading hard drug addiction to consumers. While you can make a economics case for a legal and taxed market, if the marijuana market is going to be regulated in the US, it will also require nothing less than a strong public health message.

Obama's up for re-election

Obama's up for re-election in 2012 and THAT, my good people, is ALL he cares about. If he pulls off a second victory then, and only then, might we MAYBE see some significant progress in drug policy reform. The ONLY certain "change" in Washington DC will be the interior decorating of the private living quarters of the White House.

Obama's just another mainstream politician [so what if he's half negro!] who's not not about to upset the status quo of the firmly entrenched drug-enforcement/prison-construction bureaucratic infrastructure. For the life of me, I can't understand why the Grateful Dead community is all so supportive of this man.

Unity

If someone, or some group, could organize the 50 million marijuana consumers into a voting block, we could DEMAND the end of prohibition.

I agree... but it's like

I agree... but it's like herding cats... and when we do get "leadership" on the issue, they soften up their stance to medical mj and other such incrementalist bullshit.

Ending raids on MMJ in states that have approved it is big

Aside from the clear victory it would be for compassion. People who have the legal right to use weed are free to speak of their experience and it's transparent to the community that their cannabis use poses no threat. Since freedom of speech doesn't necessarily apply to other marijuana users, and they are in general treated as though they don't exist, 'legitimate' cannabis users validate cannabis to the prohibitionist mainstream in a way 'criminal' users probably can't, no matter how responsibly they act.

Validate marijuana consumption or validate market regulation?

'legitimate' cannabis users validate cannabis to the prohibitionist mainstream in a way 'criminal' users probably can't

We shouldn't be trying to validate marijuana consumption so much as we should be validating laws that regulate the marijuana market like we do with tobacco cigarettes. Only about 3% of all past year marijuana users in the US come in contact with the criminal justice system, so we need a more comprehensive public health campaign that reaches all consumers at far less cost to taxpayers.

get real, this issue has to go front and center, not the closet!

I find the notion that we need to lay low for the right time to challenge the massive drug war industry absurd! The people who profit from this madness ie the religious right, narcotics agent unions, marijuana drug testing facilities, and number one the good old drug companies that have enormous lobbying power in Washington. These people will fight just as hard, lie, and character assassinate no matter when we fight for real change that is victimizing millions of good people around this country. There is not a perfect moment, the key is to point to the fact that this is a war on people in poverty. The intentions of marijuana prohibition are so far from pure it's sick. The cotton indutry's fear of industrial hemp along with xenophobic attitudes towards Mexicans in the 1930's demonstrate the impure roots of this prohibition. The only way we make change is to flood newspapers, magazines, blog posts, and grassroots organizing. The establishment is going to fight dirty regardless that is why we need the masses to see the marijuana smoker in another light than the stoned slacker perception the government perpetuates to maintain the status quo. The marijuana smoker is a victim, and that story is not being told in clear enough terms. We need to highlight in a profound way the good people who are being destroyed by this wicked prohibition. People in ghettos and poor areas across America are not just killing each other because they are less evolved or more inclined to violence, there is crime because of mistrust of law enforcement from their using the draconian drug war policies as a means of controlling impoverished neighborhoods, while wealthy Americans and their children never face that kind of heat but you better believe they're getting high too. Crime comes from police pressuring people to snitch on people in their communities, which simply breeds mistrust and the need to protect one's self. This is no joke because if you are struggling and selling herb to get some bread for the family and then you have to worry about the police and snitches putting you away from your children and family for years in prison. This potentially good person that exists in communities all across this country is deemed an outlaw and therefore crime thrives. These massive drug cartels would be severely hurt by losing massively inflated marijuana revenues that come fromt the fact that the plant is illegal. We could pay for teachers, roads, after school programs, healthcare, treatment, actually lifting people up, etc. with the money we would generate from legalizing and taxing marijuana for 21 and up across the country. Not to mention help with the national debt. I am concerned with people like Biden and Holder, that is why we must stop waiting for the right time and make this our time to demand real change. I know my takes on the drug war may seem convoluted and not simple enough for the average person to consider changing their minds on drug policy. We must get serious about this and quit the sit back-do nothing-and bitiching about the injustice of the drug war, we actually stand up and take on the issue head on, I hope more people feel the same way

Nathaniel Wallace, ngw08@fsu.edu

RIGHT ON! waiting out of

RIGHT ON! waiting out of fear is what we have always done. the 'right time' won't come. get to the back of the bus, rosa, this isn't the right time. (i'm not equating the suppression of blacks to that of smokers, merely commenting on the 'right time' theory) that said... say it loud, I'M STONED AND I'M PROUD :)

please read revised version of blog post

Nathaniel Wallace

I have said more than once, in these threads,

that Obama will change nothing, proof of that is already being shown us in the people he is selecting for his administration. Even the TruthOut Dems are beegtinning to see that:
Jeremy Scahill | This Is Change?
http://www.truthout.org/112108D
Jeremy Scahill, AlterNet: "U.S. policy is not about one individual, and no matter how much faith people place in President-elect Barack Obama, the policies he enacts will be fruit of a tree with many roots. Among them: his personal politics and views, the disastrous realities his administration will inherit, and, of course, unpredictable future crises. But the best immediate indicator of what an Obama administration might look like can be found in the people he surrounds himself with and who he appoints to his Cabinet. And, frankly, when it comes to foreign policy, it is not looking good."

I haven't read the article, yet, so I do not know if the author mentions drug policy at all, but we can clearly see that Obama will carry on the same old policies we have seen over the past 40 years, growing an ever bigger government, taking an ever larger chunk of your income, and restricting/removing and ever greater number of your unalienable liberties. "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss" --The Who

50 million users with bongs say nothing

now if 50 million users with rifles would speak loud and clear .wtf

Put down the rifle and Jim Beam and learn how to market ideas.

25 million people use marijuana annually, so we obviously can't rely on just consumers to carry the day. We will need to use our brains to cleverly make our movement more inclusive to people who do not use marijuana. Learn how to market an idea or a product to a demographic that normally doesn't buy it. The top marketing minds on New York's Madison Ave do this every day.

It’s Easier to Start a Drug War than to End One

Events make or break politicians.  During the Reagan administration illicit drugs topped the list of public demons.  Right now, the drug war has such a low priority for so many people in the U.S. that they barely notice the ongoing drug war in Mexico that threatens their own border.

Certainly any administration weighing their options in the war on cannabis aficionados and other drug users must consider the growing unpopularity of the drug war and the failures of the ONDCP to meet its goals.  When medical marijuana gets more votes (3,008,980) in Michigan than Obama (2,875,308), it’s hard for politicians to get the wrong message, although there will always be some who do.

The bottom line is that the drug war has little or no deterrent effect on drug use.  Consensual acts committed by adults are not considered crimes by the participants, and participants do not consider themselves to be criminals when involved in such behavior.  Arresting people for drug use radicalizes them—nothing more.  Those affected by the drug war believe it unjust when the law intervenes and creates victims where there were no victims before.  They are right about the injustice.

Thanks to the Internet, the government is largely defenseless when it comes to stopping the immediacy of critiques targeting anti-drug propaganda and failed federal drug policies.  Journalists, writers, bloggers and activists continually chip away at a faltering drug war.  Politicians and bureaucrats who inherit this war in 2009 will find it impossible to resuscitate it due to the fact that their side has run out of new ideas.  Meanwhile, their energetic and highly motivated opponents will continue daily to create new methods for revealing government lies, irrationality, hypocrisy and the overwhelming public harm caused by drug arrests.

So it’s probably not all that important who Obama appoints to positions of power within the drug war apparatus.  Regardless of who becomes drug czar or attorney general or DEA director, that person will not undo what’s been done in the name of the drug war, and there is no way they will resuscitate it.  If there is to be any political movement on this issue there is only one direction left to take, and that direction is the one that ends drug prohibition forever.

Giordano

Another Sham Politician

I knew the Obama hype was wishful thinking. They are all scum. They will continue to deny pain medication to terminal patients with alcohol abuse problems, like what happened to a family member of mine. They will toss our children in jail for decades over a bad decision. It just never ends.

I think the only way to end this drug war on people is for the economy to completely collapse, and thats all they leave me now to hope for. C'mon snake eyes!

community organizing?

It sounds like the reform movement needs to develop a huge "community organizing" (don't tell Sarah Palin) campaign, bottom up, grass roots change.

Richard

We did... His name was Ron Paul

Even Cannabis Culture magazine had the good-sense to endorse Ron Paul for President. CC magazine even had a great "Ron Paul for President" center-page poster.... with the 'nug of the month' on the backside... ofcourse!

How is it our socialist leaning friends to the north had the intellect and good sense to embrace a Constitution toting, libertarian, freedom fighter... but the populist voters in this country couldn't?

He that control the youth control the future

I'm sure Hitler wasn't the first to say it... and certainly not the last to understand the stength of that truth!

Remember, 9 out of 10 high school seniors can not name 2 inalienable rights!

Sounds like a truely self-evident national tradgedy!

I've written

to newspapers since the election and fewer letters than ever are being published.

I wrote to the Obama transition team and got a solicitation for money back from them.

My moral stance against voting for drug war supporters carried into this election. I voted for Nader again. Nothing that I have seen from the Obama thugs has disabused me of my long held contention that Obama is a drug warrior through and through.

We may have done better to support John McCain under the premise that Republicans are nothing more than blow hards and phonies who really do nothing. While the Democrats are forever using the drug war to run to the right in appeasing the fascists of America and to prove that the Democrats are more right-wing than the GOP.

i also got a solicitation in

i also got a solicitation in response to my letter fo the same context. i wonder- last i heard the obama campaign had $120M left over when they won. as i understand it, that money goes to the DNC now that its over. why is the party of the "little guy" still asking for more? i know this is off-topic, but it has bugged me and your comment brought it back to the foreground.

Blah, blah, blah Giordano

You put the weight of your news organizations behind Obama in the election. Now you say it does not matter what he does.

You have lost your credibility Al.

Had you been critical of Obama during the campaign to your tens of thousands of readers we might have gotten more critical coverage of Obama during the election. This could have helped to shove him back toward a moderate stance. But no. You played the sycophant. You had to support a black man for president. Any black man regardless of his clearly turning his back on the social justice values that we in the reform community hold dear. You had to find a way to pander to the Democrats who accused anti drug war Nader and third party supporters of costing the Democrats the '04 election.

Drug reform has failed. It is dead. And Al Giordano helped to dig the grave.

borden's picture

FYI

Our Giordano here is not Al Giordano, FYI.

David Borden, Executive Director
StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network
Washington, DC
http://stopthedrugwar.org

I stand corrected

Two points leading to the confusion.

1. This Giordano never once corrected me in the past year of referring to him as such.

2. Al Giordano and NarcoNews did in fact support Obama as some sort of 21st century savior based solely on skin color and set aside the content and character of Obama's pro drug war policy positions.

To its credit, Stopthedrugwar.com was one of the few places in the drug policy reform community that cast a critical eye on Obama's policy assertions. Too bad for us all that no one today respects critical thinking.

With each passing day I become more sure that we are heading into a time of new oppression and aggression in America with people who self-righteously mis-cast themselves as liberals and progressives commanding the march into hell.

Corrections

I normally do correct bloggers who refer to me as Al Giordano of NarcoNews.  I am not him, of course.

One or two of the times a correction wasn't possible was when some postings were removed from the site before I had a chance to respond to a blogger who had posted an unfair character attack against a DRCNet staffer writing for StoptheDrugWar.net.  That blogger was a diehard Republican supporter as well.

Giordano

Here's how it works: Obama will be forced to end the drug war.

Obama is not going to rock the boat with the blacks who are most supportive of the drug war, anymore than John McCain reaching out to the religious right is going to all of a sudden support pro-choice policies on the abortion issue. However, the squeaky wheel always gets the grease.

republican

i have been a registered Republican since i was 18. I've smoked weed and beleived in it's legalization since before that. I always felt legalization was a free-market issue, not a government control issue. Therefore, since dems are pro nanny state and GOP is (i thought) free market, i thought i picked the right side. i'm 36 now. there is no right side. the dems won't do it, the GOP with it's right-wing evangelical pandering won't do it, and the libertarians (with whom i now associate) are a 10% at best, almost-ran. i fear this is a lost cause, despite my fervent beleifs that legalization is the right way to go. we are voices in the wilderness. hope and change my ass.

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