Am I a Hippie Who Doesn’t Understand Politics?

Check out this blog post calling me a hippie and accusing me of overreacting to Obama’s rejection of marijuana legalization. This dude is cool though, I think, so it’s all good. But the whole thing misses the point of my post.

I never thought Obama was going to legalize marijuana. I was commenting on the absurdity of creating a whole campaign and then using it to uphold the status quo. Obviously, Obama isn’t going to go change-crazy from day one, but this is a massively controversial issue, as evidenced by its #1 ranking on his site. Using to reject popular and much-needed changes is ironic, and while I never expected anything more, I’m certainly not going to give him a pass just because his political posturing is painfully predictable.
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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"Decriminalization first then Regulation" strategy is BS

From CU Fratboy: "You have to walk before you run, fellow hippies. Let’s get marijuana decriminalized first, and then shoot for the heavens."

I honestly don't know where in the rule book we have to follow such a linear strategy. Some people say society needs to accept marijuana use through decriminalization before they are willing to regulate it? However, I don't think majority approval for using a substance or its decriminalization are the necessary precursors for society accepting regulation. The majority of people in the country do not approve of cigarettes, yet we regulate them. Several states like Alaska have had decriminalized marijuana for decades without coming closer to accepting any regulation initiative than the rest of the country. The arguments justifying regulation differ from those supporting decriminalization. If your primary concern is mass arrests, you only need to support decriminalization. People that support regulation are more concerned with children having unrestricted access to marijuana, criminals exploiting the market to sell other drugs to consumers and fund other criminal activities.

I agree, 100%

And moreover, I'm afraid that we may actually get decrim first. If that happens, the black market and associated crime will remain, and it's likely it and the associated crime will get worse! More people may smoke cannabis for the first few years, and that will hurt our efforts in the long run.

I can just see it, "well, we tried it your way, we tried decriminalization. The black market didn't go away, and "crime" increased. Now it's time to forget those "liberalization" policies all together, and redouble our efforts on what we were doing before. After all, Prohibition was working and we were saving the children!!! We would have already won the drug war if you dopeheads hadn't lied to the public and distracted them!!!"

It has to be legalization, or nothing. The alcohol model, minus advertising WILL work. I have a feeling that conservatism will rule the day, and "gradual steps" will be taken. Such gradual steps will backfire on us, and send us right back to the beginning, or possibly even make things worse. I hope not.

"Conservatism will rule the day"???

How can anyone call themselves a conservative, "tough on crime", "focus on the family" person and support policies that make criminals rich, ruin the quality of life in so many communities and endanger children?

The fact that prohibitionists make people think that supporting the drug war is a "tough on crime" position that conservatives should rally around shows how skilled they are in framing the issue.

Can you come up with more liberal policy than a drug war that makes criminals richer and socializes more youth into a life of crime?

You must be a conservative!

When I said "conservatism will rule the day," I wasn't referring to "conservatism" in the political ideology sense of the word.

Here's what I meant: 'conservatism - caution or moderation, as in a behavior or outlook.' In other words, any change would be implemented too slowly.

Take a deep breath...relax...not everything is along the black and white "liberal" and "conservative" lines that seem to preoccupy and divide a large percentage of Americans these days.

alcohol advertising

About the 'alcohol minus advertising' thing you said: i don't know how the advertising of tobacco became illegal (maybe it's unconstitutional), but if it isn't, i like it. I think we should try to prohibit advertising of alcohol. That would definitely help our case for legalization of other drugs because alcohol use would most likely decline, and in time would start to be seen as what it really is: something many people do but is nevertheless not a good thing. Then, other drugs will be seen in the same light, and the public in general won't be as afraid of legalization because they'll finally realize that there won't be that big a difference between the world we live in now and a world where drugs are legal.

I don't think any drug should be advertised, especially alcohol.

It's there for all the kids to see when they start watching sports games with their parents. I believe corporations like Philip Morris removed tobacco ads, like the "Joe Camel" billboards, as part of a court settlement agreement with the various states that sued them. It's not illegal for the tobacco industry in general to advertise in any way they desire, but the states crippled the largest companies that could afford it. As a result, big alcohol has taken the medical marijuana route with ad campaigns that drinking alcohol like wine can reduce your risk of health problems, like heart attacks.

I've been making the same

I've been making the same "full repeal or nothing" argument for years when lecturing about drug prohibition. And virtually everyone; even those who've never experienced recreational drugs (though many will take a Xanax or Vicodin from a friend without batting an eye...), believe drug prohibition is a failed experiment.

Where I am conflicted, though, is whether or not continuing peaceful civil disobedience is the correct form of action.

The MERP Model is the WAY

Only a Re-Legalization Model that takes the profit out of Marijuana will bring a inteligent end to the War on Weed. The MERP Model is just what the doctor ordered:

Drug Policy
Marijuana: Past, Present and Future from Bruce Cain on Vimeo.

Why Lou Dobbs Should Support Marijuana Legalization

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

Bruce W. Cain Discusses the MERP Model, for Marijuana Relegalization, with "Sense and Sensimilla"

Video Biography of Bruce W. Cain

The "Hemp Song" by Bruce W. Cain

"Rainbow Farm" and instrumental dedicated to Tom Crosslin who was
murdered at Rainbow Farm a week before 9/11 (09/11/2001)

How Continuing the Drug War could make Nuclear Terrorism a Reality
by Bruce W. Cain

Necessary? No

But it does seem to work that way.

I'm for what works. Because in the 40 years I have been watching drug prohibition not much else has.

"But it does seem to work

"But it does seem to work that way."

Obviously not since we've decriminalized marijuana in over a dozen states during the past 40 years, most of this change occurred in the 70s. Yet no regulated market exists today. Even in Nevada, a state that has decriminalized marijuana (and everything else), only 44% of Nevadans supported the Marijuana Policy Project's $3 million initiative to legalize marijuana sales in 2006. Obviously decriminalization is not the step to a regulated market.

re "it has to be legalization or nothing"

would you go so far as to actually vote against a decrim referendum if one came up? Think about the message that would be helping to send: forget about legalization, the voters don't even want to decriminalize.
As far as really changing things, I see help coming from medical marijuana, because MMJ users are considered part of the community, unlike recreational users who have basically been expelled from the community. Since they are part of the community, the virtually total lack of threat that their marijuana use poses to the community is common knowledge, not subject to slanderous drug warrior propaganda about the longterm demonized 'other' who uses 'dope'.
If I'm right about this, it might help explain the fanatical opposition of the drug warriors to MMJ, despite it's overwhelming public support and even though it makes them appear like a bunch of sadists who like to see people suffer.

I understand what you mean, and you raise a good question

Two years ago, I would've almost certainly voted for decriminalization. After studying the economic motivations, seeing cops' reactions, and the raids that still occur to MMJ caregivers in California, I wouldn't now. It just gives cops more money and time to go after citizens who may grow a few plants in their yard, or similar situations.

Decrim pressures cops to bust everyone for a felony, to make sure that "almost an ounce" weighs "over an ounce." And in areas where cannabis has been made the lowest priority for enforcement, cops simply ignore those mandates and continue waging their sickening drug war. As for MMJ, look at how many people are turning against it, due to the "weed-motivated burglaries and thefts," where people with weapons try to steal a caregiver's or a terminal patient's grow plot.

It's a tough problem. I almost never like to take a hard-liner stance, but this is one area where I do. LEAP explains it very well over at their site, and I agree with them. We can't half-ass this one, because we are working against fundamentalist hard-liners ourselves (The Prohibitionists.)

Look at the Netherlands, for example. A little smoking is tolerated, but the elephant in the room is "where does that weed come from?" They still bust growers over there, so the whole situation is a catch-22. In the US, people tend to be more conservative, and wouldn't go for that charade - at least not now. All I can do is tell everyone who will listen the TRUTH about Cannabis, and the TRUTH about the Constitution. It is OUR RIGHT to put whatever we want into our bodies, as long as we don't hurt anyone else. The "War on (some) Drugs is only one symptom of a corroded, rotten government that no longer serves the people, only itself. This is all my opinion, so take it witha grain of salt.


These are valid reasons to support legalization, but I don't see why they'd lead you to oppose decrim if that's what's on the table. Decrim is imperfect, but it's better than the alternative. Strong showings for decrim initiatives and other similar measures help to diffuse the perception that reform isn't politically viable. They also often reduce the number of people whose lives are ruined by our drug laws, though not always as decisively as we'd hope.

Perhaps I worded that too strongly...

You're right - I got to thinking about it, and I shouldn't have said I would oppose decrim. I guess if it came down to it, I would have to see the specific proposal. If it sucked, I simply wouldn't vote for it, but I wouldn't vote against it either!

I guess with me, it's just a matter that I don't like to compromise on important things like this. I can just see it backfiring, far too easily. I guess if we took an approach that was almost identical to the Netherlands' coffee shop model, you'd be right - that would be a good start, and a compromise I could live with (and hopefully most others could, too.) I just have a very hard time seeing such a model being allowed to exist in the morally conservative US.

Thanks for pointing that out, though! Peace.

Just Look At MA

Small amounts have been "decriminalized" in MA and instead of making things easier it's apparently created somewhat of a legal quagmire involving civil rights among other things. Can I post a link here? If it violates something I apologize and please feel free to remove it:

As I commented to the CU kid, the P in L.E.A.P. isn't there just to make a word.

That said,his blog is a great example of my favorite soap box topic: the need for education. The desire to eliminate illegality isn't just about sparking up, it's about crime,it's about the economy,it's about the war on terror,and it's about harm reduction. The complete legalization of marijuana enables all of us, regardless of age, to make a better choice when it comes to our pursuit of happiness.

This afternoon I sent this response

To the Editor:

Re: "Marijuana Law Comes With Challenges" (A29, Dec. 18):

I empathize with those that must put additional effort into enforcing the new policy, but in time its societal benefits will far outweigh the temporary pains of implementation.

Yes, Massachusetts law makers and enforcers may have to change some laws and create some new ones. This is their job. I can just imagine the complaints made by local officials who had to comply with the Civil Rights Act or the 13th Amendment. When you look at the racial disparities between drug users and convicts, the comparison of drug criminalization to racial inequality is not so preposterous.

I'm sorry guys, but the wise citizens of MA have agreed that no one should be getting criminal records for using this substance.

Sea-change has to begin somewhere.

Profit Motive

I always assumed that profit motive would win out as soon as public sentiment got behind the medical marijuana issue (ie now), since profit motive seems to drive everything these days. Legalization would create a huge market for smokeable marijuana as well as commercial hemp applications since this is also currently illegal to grow. Costs of imprisonment and enforcement of marijuana laws, including eradication efforts, would also cease to exist. Decriminalization seemed like a worthless step once the economics of the issue were realized.

I guess we're all hippies who don't understand politics

But the issue here is whether this new Obama approach is really asking people what they think or more of the same elite consensus that it's OK to simply ignore calls for change you want to ignore.

So far, the website looks like a scam and a sham, if it intended to show that technology allows better unmediated discussion between politicians and grass roots, ordinary voters. I does only if you allow that discussion to happen and don't try to manage or steer it in an authoritarian, top down manner.

On the site, like the Kerry '04 site before it, it looks like the pols are going the easy route: create the appearance of discussion without its substance (except on the issues the pols WANT to talk about).

And judging from the top 50 questions, there is a vast, pent up desire, especially the younger voters, to discuss marijuana prohibition and the war on drugs. In short, they, but not Obama, view this as a legitimate issue and target for the vaguely defined "change" and "hope" that were sold last year.

Right now it looks like the thinking is that this issue was the result of a few savvy "astroturf" groups like posters on the few drug policy websites like this who "freeped" the on line poll.

But I say this: it's not. I know the several dozen posters who post on DP websites, from their "handles" if not having met them at a DPA or NORML conference. And this group of 1,000 people tops was not responsible for the 10,000 responses to the site..."legalization" or questions about the WoU(s)D.

I say keep up the agitation. Legalize. More questions to Support Nadelman for drug czar and piss on Rep. Ramsted and any other conventional wisdom empty suit they come up with. I say Obama and Pelosi will continue to steamroll us past 2010 at their peril. Obama won't win the support of Rich Warren voters by kissing up to the center-right, but he sure will piss off his core supporters if he pulls a Clinton on us this time.

Back to the "hippy" politics thing -- how is it that the issue is too trivial and childish for the great minds in Washington to consider, but at the same time, they can't justify current regulation either as supported by science or legitimate public opinion. It was a political cram down on Nixon's enemies -- blacks, hippies, youth, war protestors.

I hate the hypocritical paternalistic double bind of the squares: it's too trivial an issue for them to consider an issue, but they are implacably dead set against changing the law or any relaxation in Prohibition. The response definitely conflicts with their notion that the issue is "trivial", in which case, they wouldn't care and wouldn't stand in the way of progress, would they.

As to Massachusetts DA Capeless, of course he's going to have problems with decrim, because he was the biggest dick in the whole state, er Commonwealth, because he was trying to send some kid in Great Barrington to prison for two years for holding or selling some small amount of pot in a locally notorious parking lot near a movie theatre, and was being a Sheriff Arpaio-type "law and order" grandstander about it to the approbation of a local newspaper and public radio loudmouth named Alan Chartock (often mistakenly thought of as a liberal on most issues).

Decrim is their "best of

Decrim is their "best of both worlds". They still get to have the criminal underground that supplies black money and they get to collect revenue from the people who get caught. It also allows them to keep their big "DEA" types going with all the funding. In fact funding will probably increase for the DEA. They will never willing legalize because the people who run the show like the lack of accountability that drug money has. If they legalize, it would put a spotlight on the activity of the companies making the product. They'd have to be held accountable for their money. They'd loose a bit more control over the people too.

When I think of decriminalization

I think of agricrops like carrots and tomatoes and corn. I would like to see cannabis treated the same way -- one can grow it, give it away, use it onself, trade or sell it without restrictions of any kind, and without any licensure requirement. However, I know that is no longer possible, at least not in our time. Therefore, legalization is the next best thing . . . IF cannabis is treated in a manner similar to beer and wine -- one can legally make so many gallons (not certain exact count) of wine or beer at home, each year, for personal use and/or gifts, and even for sale (microbreweries); cannabis legalization should allow one to grow a certain amount each year for personal use and/or gifts, and even for sale.


if it can't be legalized, how about changing the laws that makes drug crimes the only "crime" in which they can seize your personel property. maybe that in itself would cool things down and then maybe the police can then consentrate on the real crimes like rape, child molestration, armed robbery ect. these crimes are few in the bookings compared to the drug crimes and DUI's. I thought the police were suppose to protect and serve the public so why are violant criminals released early to make room for mostly non violant drug crimes.

real crime

I just had a thought,when reading your coment. The "real" crimes don't usually involve the money that the "drug" crimes do. (It is not really drug crime but prohibition crime). And the cops and their superiors are hooked on the money. The rapists, murderers, and child molesters are not going to be the ones driving the Hummers, or living in the million dollar homes, now! Are they!?

I even know someone whose husband, working in LE got a $10,000 bonus out of the evidence locker! Money, allegedly, never got logged in! But, then again, that is only hear-say.

International Treaty Requirements

Decriminalization was meant to maintain a drug’s illegality on a nation’s law books for the sake of abiding by the Single Convention treaty, but otherwise without engaging in serious, active, legal enforcement of the law, much like the American blue laws. This is part of the reasoning used in the Netherlands that allows cannabis to be sold in coffeehouses.  It’s as if a drug is legal and illegal at the same time (something that only makes sense if we're talking about the drug war).


Answering Scott's Question

I don't know if you're a hippie, Scott, but whether or not you understand politics perhaps depends on whether or not you understand the principle of advertising.

To help illustrate my point, take two products. One is crap and the other is amazing. The crappy one is well-advertised to the public, while the amazing product is not (so most people don't even know it exists).

The company making the amazing product spends its resources telling a vast minority of the public how crappy their competition's product is.

Which product is purchased more? The crappy one.

Politicians don't talk truth. They need to gain public support, so they apply the principle of advertising (quick, simple, and very difficult to publicly oppose messages such as "change we can believe in", "tough on crime", "we must protect the children", etc.), saying whatever they think the audience wants to hear be it true or otherwise.

Lobbying the government without solidly-proven public majority support (polls are not that proof, because it's too easy to "put a thumb on the scale") makes no sense, and yet the reform movement continues relentlessly to do so. We need to gain real public majority support first, then sell politicians on the public support gains they get for supporting us.

The marijuana legalization question being #1 at doesn't necessarily prove that it's a major issue in this country. It proves that a large group of people (though no where near a public majority) decided to spend precious resources using to create change while confessing that they knew it wouldn't work.

Drug prohibition remains, because the prohibitionists still have a much larger audience listening to them. They just use the principle of advertising ("drugs destroy society"). Plain and simple.

We need to spend most resources applying the principle of advertising to prominently share the benefits of ending drug prohibition to the public majority.

It's time for you all to leave your comfort zone and start doing something that makes sense and actually achieves your stated goal to end drug prohibition, by speaking to the public majority in a way that gets them to understand our righteous message.

This is why I support the patriotism angle. "Drug prohibition is unconstitutional" is a quick, simple, and impossible to publicly oppose message (not to mention it pushes aside international treaty obligations which require constitutionality, and undermines the prohibitionist advertising). No one will publicly deny their patriotism (especially the politicians). We can pin them against the ropes with this one with truth firmly on our side to boot.

That Beeping Sound is Obama Backing Up Over his Supporters

For as bad as it is for marijuana users, getting brushed off when they demonstrate real grass-roots support for changes in the laws, imagine how it feels to be gay...

(An especially sorry sorry to all the gay stoners) :(

Obama promises change, but wants to drive the queers back into the closest closets possible.

What an a-hole.

Clinton redux...

Change, my ass. Too bad he didn't get popped when he was suctioning BLOW into his head and suffered the same fate a million other black men have faced--jail for a non-violent drug offense. Then we wouldn't have this particular BS artist to deal with.

Pro-equality for all adults to marry......NO!
Pro-drug war......YES!
Pro-stay-the-course.....YOU BETCHA!

not to pick a fight with gays, but at least you folks are legal

Your very existence isn't criminal anymore, though it took a Supreme Court decision to do it. It's a relative luxury to be getting so worked up over a symbolic act like letting that bad boy Warren give the invocation, instead of having to worry about things like extortionate black market prices and arrests for a bogus 'crime'.

my question for Obama

Why is marijuana illegal? Isn't alcohol far more dangerous to life and limb (and fetus)? You can't give him a question he can answer with a simple no. What he should do is just, as an aside sometime, admit that alcohol is more dangerous. As long as he isn't advocating any change in the law, I'm not sure it would hurt him politically. He'd just be speaking a truth everyone knows but no one mainstream will say. Just like the little boy pointing out that the emperor has no clothes or the one time community organizer speaking truth to power.
I don't believe legalization of cannabis will start in DC anyway. Someone put down the 44% vote for legalization in Nevada in 2006 in an earlier post, but from my point of view, they convinced almost 90% of the people they have to convince to be the majority. Add in favorable demographics (old poorly informed hardheads dying off). Actually, unlike with Bush, I don't think it's clear how Obama would respond to a state legalizing cannabis. If he says the DEA wouldn't respect it, that would be a time to let the verbal brickbats fly

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