Breaking News:We Just Won an Old Fight

Attacking Obama for Supporting Medical Marijuana Isn't Going to Work

As I'm constantly pointing out, political strategists always have the hardest time coming to terms with widespread public support for reforming marijuana policies. Maybe their hearts are in the wrong place, or they only read each other's books, or, more likely, they're all stuck in 1988 and they think if someone yells "Drugs! Crime!" loud enough, all the voters are gonna jump out of their socks and vote for whoever promises the most ass kickings.

That's why today's frantic press release from the RNC lambasting Obama over medical marijuana is as predictable as it is foolish. Just look at the remarks from Obama that RNC highlights in an attempt to make people afraid of him:

Obama Pledged To Stop DEA Raids On Oregon Medical Marijuana:

Obama Pledged To Stop The Drug Enforcement Administration’s Raids On Oregon Medical Marijuana Growers. Willamette Week: “Would you stop the Drug Enforcement Administration’s raids on Oregon medical marijuana grows?” Obama: “I would because I think our federal agents have better things to do, like catching criminals and preventing terrorism. The way I want to approach the issue of medical marijuana is to base it on science. And if there is sound science that supports the use of medical marijuana and if it is controlled and prescribed in a way that other medicine is prescribed, then it’s something we should consider.” (James Pitkin, “Six Minutes With Barack,” Willamette Week, 5/14/08)
That's what we're supposed to be worried about? Americans overwhelmingly support medical marijuana and will greet all of this with a gigantic yawn, if not a backlash against McCain. But that won't stop the RNC from trying:
WASHINGTON – RNC Communications Director Danny Diaz released the following statement today:

“Barack Obama’s pledge to stop Executive agencies from implementing laws passed by Congress raises serious doubts about his understanding of what the job of the President of the United States actually is. His refusal to enforce the law reveals that Barack Obama doesn’t have the experience necessary to do the job of President, or that he fundamentally lacks the judgment to carry out the most basic functions of the Executive Branch. What other laws would Barack Obama direct federal agents not to enforce?”

So conducting violent raids on medical dispensaries, while ignoring the will of voters, the advice of doctors, and the medical needs of sick Americans is one of "the most basic functions of the Executive Branch"?

I wish the RNC the best of luck calling attention to Barack Obama's statements on medical marijuana. I really do, and I will gleefully post every press release they dare to send out about it because their candidate's views on this issue are deeply unpopular with Americans.

Few things I've written have generated more web traffic than this post revealing how John McCain literally turned his back towards a wheelchair bound medical marijuana patient who asked him for help. So if the clever strategists in the republican party want to play hardball over medical marijuana, they'd better put their helmets on.

[Thanks, Bruce Mirken]

 

(This blog post was published by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Boy, the Drug Free machine

Boy, the Drug Free machine has really been in panic mode lately, hasn't it? There's nothing more entertaining than neocon suicide.

The RNC just shot themselves

The RNC just shot themselves and John McCain's campaign in the foot. We now have a excellent opportunity to show all the politicians in this country that being against compassion is political suicide.

Branching Out

While I confess that I'm not an expert on government, I understand the basics enough to place something on the virtual table here, Scott.

Mr. Diaz's statement has nothing to do with support for medical marijuana, IMHO.

What he's saying is that it's not the job of the President (the Executive branch) to make or interpret laws, and he's right about that.

"I would because I think our federal agents have better things to do, like catching criminals and preventing terrorism."

As disgusting as it is, marijuana patients are criminals by federal law.

You may not agree with the law (I sure don't), but it is the law, and the President has no choice but to uphold it.

It's not the President's job to stop drug prohibition. It's the Legislative branch's (i.e. Congress') job to fix the corrupted rule-of-law by changing it, and they will do that when the majority of the public threatens to vote them out should they fail to implement that fix, and the public will do that when we directly address them without alienating an entire political party in the process.

Since I'm sensing a political attack here against the Republican party, and since I'm not a fan of any effort to make this a partisan issue, do I balance things out a bit here by pointing out that the job falls squarely into the hands of a Democrat-controlled Congress, and would I be wrong to suggest that this Democrat-controlled Congress has done absolutely nothing for our cause?

Re: Branching Out

It's absolutely the president's job to set DOJ priorities. He appoints the attorney general. When Congress confirms the AG, they quiz the candidate on what issues he/she considers most important because they know the AG has tremendous discretion. It is just wrong to say that the president has no business telling his federal law enforcement officials what issues he wants them to pursue/ not pursue.

Moreover, my point here isn't to attack the RNC, but rather to attack the viewpoint that we need to raid medical marijuana dispensaries, which the RNC now adopts. Rather obviously, they are the ones making this a partisan issue, not me.

Even John McCain has claimed that we don't and shouldn't arrest seriously ill patients. He was wrong that we don't do it, but the statement still reflects his belief that not every law must be enforced to the letter.

As for the Democratic Congress, of course they've dropped the ball on this, which is precisely why this issue warrants debate in the presidential election.

Branching Out A Little Further

In the world of politics and law, precise wording is critical.

Based on the quotes in your post, Diaz is attacking Obama as a result of that wording.

“I would because I think our federal agents have better things to do, like catching criminals and preventing terrorism."

Obama's statement does not reflect the setting of DOJ priorities. His statement does not say something like drug raids to combat people breaking federal law is placed behind other priorities (which I think we can agree would be an excellent use of Executive power, BTW).

Medical marijuana patients violate federal law and as such are criminals. It's a sad truth, but truth none the less.

Obama, who would be under oath to uphold federal law as President, by distinguishing those patients from criminals, despite federal law, based on his wording, is saying he intends to violate that oath. That's what Diaz is criticizing.

"Moreover, my point here isn't to attack the RNC, but rather to attack the viewpoint that we need to raid medical marijuana dispensaries, which the RNC now adopts."

I see nothing in the RNC quote saying the law supporting drug raids is just, just that it is the law, and unless Congress changes it, the President needs to abide by it, to maintain the balance of power in the US.

Do you have a RNC quote that says the law is a just law?

"As for the Democratic Congress, of course they've dropped the ball on this..."

"We the people", as managers of our government (as provided by the US Constitution), need to get Congress (regardless of political dominance) to pick up the ball and get it right. To me, that's what our movement is all about, communicating liberty and undeniable truth to the entire public to gain the support necessary to end drug prohibition.

This issue warrants debate anywhere we can convince people that any law supporting drug prohibition is unjust.

Yeah, I just don't agree with this.

Federal law enforcement has finite resources, and it's perfectly typical for DOJ to completely ignore one criminal activity in favor of another. Obama absolutely has the discretion to declare that his DOJ will use its resources on other more pressing concerns than medical marijuana raids, and it's ludicrous for the RNC to paint that as some sort of flagrant abdication of his oath of office.

All the other democratic presidential candidates made the same promise as Obama, as did 3 republican candidates.

The Supreme Court has upheld federal authority to conduct these raids but it did not compel their continuation. MMJ raids are the definition of DOJ discretion gone crazy.

from the mouth of the beast...

In continually conducting raids on purely intrastate medical marijuana operations the DEA is acting against it's own stated primary responsibilities.

According to the DEA's own mission statement;
http://www.justice.gov/dea/agency/mission.htm

... the DEA's primary responsibilities include:

Investigation and preparation for the prosecution of major violators of controlled substance laws operating at interstate and international levels.

Investigation and preparation for prosecution of criminals and drug gangs who perpetrate violence in our communities and terrorize citizens through fear and intimidation.

Commerce Clause

"The New Deal Court drastically expanded the scope of the Commerce Clause. When examining if something was 'commerce', the Court would aggragate the total effect the activity would have on commerce. Intrastate activities fell within the scope of the Commerce Clause if those activities would have any rational effect on interstate commerce."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commerce_Clause#New_Deal

The government is abusing the Commerce Clause to justify the raids?

I just sent this to the RNC

To the RNC:

As a private citizen reading the news, I came upon the following quote, attributed to Danny Diaz, referring to a statement by Barack Obama regarding Obama’s pledge to stop the DEA’s raiding of medical marijuana facilities where they are legal under state law:

“Barack Obama’s pledge to stop Executive agencies from implementing laws passed by Congress raises serious doubts about his understanding of what the job of the President of the United States actually is. His refusal to enforce the law reveals that Barack Obama doesn’t have the experience necessary to do the job of President, or that he fundamentally lacks the judgment to carry out the most basic functions of the Executive Branch. What other laws would Barack Obama direct federal agents not to enforce?”

What an amazing statement by Mr Diaz! Please continue to use it! It is a perfect illustration of the GOP position on so many things, obviously not just medical marijuana, which Mr Diaz cleverly doesn’t mention. Voters are sure to notice the uncanny ease with which Mr Diaz’s remarkable statement can be applied to other situations. I offer the following as an example of the kind of effortless extension it can logically be taken to.

“George Bush’s pledge to continue violating laws passed by Congress raises serious doubts about his understanding of what the job of the President of the United States actually is. His insistence on breaking the FISA law reveals that George Bush doesn’t have the knowledge necessary to do the job of President, and that he fundamentally lacks the judgment to properly carry out the most basic functions of the Executive Branch. What other laws is George Bush directing federal agents to violate?”

Brilliant! Thank you.

Dear ph0ed1n:

You are right about everything you said except one thing, about the president having "no choice" but to enforce/uphold/abide by the olaw as passed by Congress.

Actually, as George Bush and others before him have deomonstrated, the president has the choice to obey the law or not obey the law.

Conviction

While many complain that President Bush has violated US law, given all of his powerful adversaries serving in the US government today, putting aside conviction, why has President Bush never even been prosecuted for these so-called crimes?

Is he not innocent until proven guilty in the court of law?

Remind the RNC that Ron Paul

Remind the RNC that Ron Paul is a member of the Republican Party. He has brought in more new Republicans than Sen. McCain. Ron Paul has supported and introduced legislation that is pro-medical cannabis with bi-partisan support.

If we care about the future membership of the Republican Party, we should become the party of Lincoln not the party of the current candidate, McCain.

Actually

"The way I want to approach the issue of medical marijuana is to base it on science. And if there is sound science that supports the use of medical marijuana and if it is controlled and prescribed in a way that other medicine is prescribed, then it’s something we should consider.”

This is nothing more than the liberal cop out for capitulation to the status quo. They know that the drug warriors have, for the most part, kept these conditions from being achieved. And the drug warriors will continue to obstruct science as their means of preventing a reclassification.

Once elected Obama will authorize some token med/mari research that will take ten years and only be designed to produce preliminary and inconclusive results. But Obama will be able to use that small act as a blind to hide behind in doing nothing else for drug policy reform while he will be doing all kinds of shit to escalate the overall drug war.

We need to confront all of the candidates to support H.B. 5843: "To eliminate most Federal penalties for possession of marijuana for personal use..." THIS YEAR! 2008 Marijuana Decriminalization Bill in U.S. Congress

This would solve the entire medical pot issue without the tortured parsings of Barack Obama and the RNC.

the law

Let's check the record of this law against marijuana. For approximately 70 years this law has been enforced by destroying many thousands of lives of people who make the mistake of smoking a substance that has hurt nobody in all of history. Many people have been killed by an over zealous government in this unbelievable "war on drugs". It's like the entire government is as crazy as Richard Nixon.

Finally a little light at the end of the nightmare shows up with over a dozen states taking the bold initiative to legalize the medical use of cannabis in spite of federal laws. And now in this post nightmare world coming up (read republican right wing fundamentalist George Bush world), we might live to see in the Obama presidency a slight shift towards sanity on this issue. And of course Obama will be attacked by people who live in a "reefer madness" mindset for bringing some small amount of common sense to the federal government.

When a law is this bad, it must be purged from our system or it starts to tear the system apart. This cannabis prohibition is actually far more about the evils of our U.S. government than it is about the evils of marijuana (there isn't much evil there). If the people can't win in this battle then I see a complete loss of credibility and trust in the system we have created.

I find it so weird that people (expecially older Americans) who have never seen a single instance of a problem with cannabis or have never witnessed even once a person who they knew was affected by the use of marijuana will make statements like "oh, it's a gateway drug" , or "people smoke it and go crazy and kill each other", or other completely strange comments.

Let's stop the nazi-like drug raids where people are gunned down because they use this relatively harmless substance. Let's come to our senses.

Sam Sharp

Perceived Truths

While I don't want to over-comment in this thread, and certainly believe that prohibitionists have never supplied an undeniable truth proving an instance of marijuana use is harmful (making its illegal status a violation of the inalienable right to liberty), the perceived truth of the "consent of the governed" is that marijuana use is harmful.

This perceived truth arises from the impairment of motor skills and other mental capabilities. With moderation, this impairment is mild. With many bong hits of high quality stuff, the impairment (including the inability to stand up or to quickly speak a thought) raises concerns for a number of people, and it isn't unreasonable to believe that such excessive intake has led to tragedy over those 70 years.

Marijuana, like anything in life, can be abused, and it is the failure to distinguish abuse from proper use, and the fact that every action impairs us in some way, that allows illegality to win.

To the extent that drug prohibition is sustained by Republicans is the extent that the legalization movement (arguably Democrat dominated), with all due respect, has built its Liberal "fortress" of websites and events and remained there, failing to effectively express the undeniable truths supporting our cause in the forums conveniently accessible by those people needing enlightenment on the subject. So-called evil prohibitionists in the public are people overwhelmed with family and work, trusting their community leaders (basically elected to represent the people) when they say marijuana use is harmful.

Prohibition isn't about the evils of the US government. It's a natural result of politics, national and international.

"When a law is this bad, it must be purged from our system or it starts to tear the system apart."

Agreed.

It's Congress' job to change the federal rule-of-law in the US, not the law enforcement organizations whose job it is to enforce federal law.

It's "We the people" who need to give Congress the incentive to make that change.

It's people like us who need to give "We the people" the undeniable truths that support ending drug prohibition.

Can we do that if we remain here in the Liberal "fortress" attacking the political right?

Or can we do that if we take undeniable truths to the Rush Limbaugh show? Fox News? Any other public conservative forum?

Re: Perceived Truths

"While I don't want to over-comment in this thread..."

Comment away, my friend. That's what this is for. Just forgive me if I'm not always able to respond directly. I read the comments, but I don't always get a chance to reply to everything. 

dealing with prohibitionist...

talking with a prohibitionist is like talking to your refrigerator... you know the light goes on and the light goes off but it doesn't do anything that isn't built into it.

What we need to do is make being a prohibitionist like being a terrorist or communist or fascist. We need to show the people that prohibition is something more in lines with what the Taliban and Dictators would do and that it is not something that should be favorable in a free country.

Limited resources determine priorities

"It's Congress' job to change the federal rule-of-law in the US, not the law enforcement organizations whose job it is to enforce federal law."

I think someone who is a US Senator and law graduate from Harvard knows that the President doesn't create laws. However, law enforcement is under no obligation to enforce the law. If you are being robbed, beaten, murdered in the street, there is no law saying police have to devote a certain amount of resources to come to your aid. If a thousand people are smoking pot in front of the hundred police, there is no law requiring them to devote resources to arrest any of them. The same goes for medical marijuana clinics, the DEA are not under any obligation to shut down all of them and they haven't. Government enforces the laws as they see fit.

Law enforcement welfare is a privilege, not a right

Chief Justice Rehnquist opinion for Deshaney Vs. Winnebago Social Services:

"4th Amendment: The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment provides that '[n]o state shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.'...

It forbids the State itself to deprive individuals of life, liberty, or property without "due process of law," but its language cannot fairly be extended to impose an affirmative obligation on the state to ensure that those interests do not come to harm through other means."

Selective Law Enforcement

"I think someone who is a US Senator and law graduate from Harvard knows that the President doesn't create laws."

For the record, my statement was directed to Anonymous, who (with no disrespect to him/her/it) showed me no such credentials.

I never said obligated. I said job. :-)

Your point regarding law enforcement is well received, and has provided me an interesting direction for further research.

Actually, they have it all wrong

Medical marijuana is only against the law because the DEA has failed to place it in the proper schedule, even going against the recommendation of their own judge.. If the president directed the DEA administrator to reschedule marijuana, it would happen. Then, it would no longer be against the law.

Let's do it

If "We the people" need to give Congress the incentive to make a changing our prohibition policy then lets get off ur asses and away from the computers and into the streets! I'm ready right now to let the government know how "We the people" feel about this neglected issue. "We the people" need to take more action now! Sound the alarm and i'll be there ready to do whatever I can.

Medical marijuana--election issue?

A general decriminalization of personal use amounts of marijuana with reasonable conditions in place would be the fastest and most efficient means to end all the confusion, as medical program participants would then automatically be protected. At the very least, Conservatives need to put all the well-worn propaganda aside and take an honest look at both the proven evidence confirming medical applications and the public polls regarding the medical use of cannabis. If Conservatives are unwilling to approach the issue of medical marijuana in an open-minded manner, I believe that Democrats should bring the issue up to force the point, as the public should be fully aware of the Republican official stance. Then the Republicans can try to justify their reasoning to want to continue to target medically needy patients. The situation is approaching "critical mass" as there seems to be an escalation of tragedies related to marijuana making the news lately. People are being refused life-saving organ transplants (and dying) solely because they are (were) using marijuana medically and with proper state authorization, people are being murdered for "ratting" out their pot suppliers after being busted themselves and "given the option" of possibly lightening any possible sentence by cooperating with law enforcement, and on and on. When people have to die for no reason except for the failures caused by the current policies the government uses to "control" marijuana, I personally can't grasp why the government would consistently refuse to look responsibly at the issue, with the goal of harm reduction; incidents such as mentioned above have to stop. Why is it that most Conservatives have such a huge fear or problem demonstrating any compassion for medical marijuana patients?

Obama Wiggles on Medical Marijuana

http://aleftindependent.blogspot.com/2008/05/obama-wiggles-on-medical-ma...

"Jacob Sullum at Reason magazine's Hit and Run blog wrote this week that he thinks Sen. Barack Obama's position on medical marijuana is "getting clearer". Frankly Obama's position is irrelevant. Aside from setting some new priorities for the DEA Obama can't do much that the congress does not first enact, authorize and appropriate.

Besides, as important as the compassion for ill and medically suffering Americans is, the medical marijuana enforcement issue does not resolve the major public safety and security issues confronting Americans today. Public safety problems exacerbated by the continued prohibition by the congress against regulating, licensing and taxing the violent criminal anarchy out of marijuana distribution. A prohibition that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain all still support.

Simple solution to both the medical marijuana issue as well as the public safety issues in America today: 2008 Marijuana Decriminalization Bill in the U.S. Congress".

...and Dick Morris advises

...and Dick Morris advises McCain to hit Obama for wanting to equalize the crack-powder disparity by decreasing penalties for crack instead of increasing sanctions for powder (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/05/16/AR200805...). Hopefully, that one is a loser for them, as well, but crack hysteria is a wholly different animal than anything that the right can conjure up in relation to medical marijuana. Still, if McCain heeds Morris (not a sure thing; most marginally astute people take anything he says with more than a few grains of salt), that will offer a good opportunity to test Obama's mettle on what should be an easily defensible reform position.

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