Clinton and Obama's Positions on Medical Marijuana Aren't Good Enough
What would you do as president about the federal government not recognizing Oregon's Medical Marijuana Program as legal?
We've got to have a clear understanding of the workings of pain relief and the control of pain. And there needs to be greater research and openness to the research that's already been done. I don't think it's a good use of federal law-enforcement resources to be going after people who are supplying marijuana for medicinal purposes.
So you'd stop the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's raids on medical marijuana grows?
What we would do is prioritize what the DEA should be doing, and that would not be a high priority. There's a lot of other more important work that needs to be done. [wweek.com]
Honestly, this "not a good use of resources" argument for ending medical marijuana raids is the weakest excuse possible for taking the right position on this. Of course it's not a good use of resources, but that isn't why we should refrain from harassing sick people. We don't do that because it's just wrong. Why can't you say that? Are you afraid?
This fiscal argument against medical marijuana raids isn’t just incoherent, it's politically useless. When polling data shows overwhelming public support for medical marijuana, and John McCain looks vicious and cruel by comparison, it's time to go on the offensive. There's no sense in failing to call out McCain on his wildly unpopular position. But you can't accuse him of cruelty unless you acknowledge that this is genuinely cruel and not just a poor investment.
I don't think this is necessarily a matter of educating Clinton and Obama about where the people stand on medical marijuana. I think they know that. Unfortunately, I fear it's all they know. They've stumbled cluelessly into the right position, but they lack the will and/or the knowledge to debate it and capitalize on the easy political points it offers them.
The way the winds are blowing, I'd wager that either of them could have clinched the democratic nomination already simply by speaking more bravely about this and other drug policy issues. That sure would have livened up this mindnumbing spectacle for one thing. They'd never attempt it for fear of nasty attack ads and so forth in the general election, but since it's going to come up anyway, you're always better off throwing the first punch.
Senators, the next time someone asks you about medical marijuana, tell us that you know it works and that's why you support it. Tell us that John McCain thinks it should be a crime and that he's wrong. Not only is this the best political answer, it's the truth.
Update: In comments, MPP's Bruce Mirken points to recent statements from Obama that go a bit further than Hillary's remarks yesterday. I am still dissatisfied, but I suppose it could now be claimed that Obama's position isn't confined to just the "bad use of resources" argument. He has acknowledged the legitimacy of medical use in certain circumstances, which is a step in the direction I'm advocating.
Update II: Some have argued in comments that I should have mentioned Ron Paul and Mike Gravel's positions on medical marijuana in this post. I disagree. My central point is that the democratic nominee would be wise to improve their medical marijuana position in anticipation of the general election against John McCain. To my knowledge, neither Ron Paul nor Mike Gravel will be running in the general election. We've covered those candidates previously, but with respect to their supporters, I don't consider them relevant to the specific argument I'm making here. It's not that I don't appreciate the contributions of Paul and Gravel, but this post isn't about them.
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