The Speakeasy Blog

Obama and Eric Holder Are Still Lying About the Medical Marijuana Raids

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On Thursday, Eric Holder lied to Congress about DOJ's escalating attacks against medical marijuana:

Mr. Holder said federal officials are not going after those who are staying within the confines of their states' medical marijuana laws, but said some have "come up with ways in which they are taking advantage of these state laws."

"We limit our enforcement efforts to those individuals, organizations that are acting out of conformity with state law," Mr. Holder told a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing. [Washington Times]

That statement is simply false, and flagrantly so. It's been widely reported in the press that federal prosecutors have threatened to arrest state officials merely for administering their own medical marijuana laws. One cannot claim that regulators performing their official duties are "acting out of conformity with state law". They are the state. You can't threaten them with arrest and then subsequently claim that enforcement is only directed at those who violate local laws.

Moreover, the feds have raided hundreds of dispensaries without making any effort at all to determine whether state laws are being violated. Most of the time, they're just confiscating money and medicine without even charging anyone. They keep saying the people they raid were breaking local laws, but they aren't proving that to be the case. When have they ever demonstrated that any of these businesses were violating state laws?

This whole just-enforcing-state-laws excuse is the same nonsense we were hearing from the President a month ago, and the Obama Administration's ability to comfortably repeat this crap owes much to the media's total failure to follow up on it.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Bad deputy! We have three cases of misbehaving sheriff's deputies this week, plus the mandatory crooked prison guard. Chronicle story here.

A Festival of Lies: Perjury in a Michigan Cocaine Case [FEATURE]

A trial over a big cocaine bust in Michigan ended up taking out a judge, a prosecutor, and a pair of cops as they constructed a conspiracy of lies to help win their case. Chronicle feature story here.

NYPD Police Officer Indicted in Ramarley Graham Killing

There may be justice yet for Ramarley Graham, the Bronx teenager killed by police in his own bathroom as he tried to flush a baggie of weed. The cops said they thought he had a gun. He didn't, and now one narc has been indicted for manslaughter. Chronicle story here.

Did You Know? Drug Offender Numbers in Prison, Jail, Probation and Parole

DrugWarFacts.org, a publication of Common Sense for Drug Policy, is an in-depth compilation of key facts, stats and quotes on the full range of drug policy issues, excerpted from expert publications on the subjects. The Chronicle is running a series of info items from DrugWarFacts.org over the next several weeks, and we encourage you to check it out. Chronicle article here.

Marijuana Legalization Polling High in Colorado

A new Rasmussen poll shows the Colorado initiative to legalize and regulate marijuana like alcohol is well-positioned to win in November. Chronicle story here.

Update and Video Footage from Bronner Protest

According to Dr. Bronner's, David Bronner is going to be in jail overnight (ouch), and is being charged with disorderly conduct, blocking a public way, and attempted distribution of marijuana.

If distribution is the charge they bring, things may get interesting. The US federal government bans growing of hemp plants, despite their lack of the psychoactive ingredient THC. But it is legal to import the sterilized seeds and the oil, among other things. It's oil (on bread), ground from the plants on site, that David was providing to people. Can a distribution charge of a food substance that is sold legally right here in the US stand up? The right to sell such food substances was tested and secured, in large part through Dr. Bronner's supported efforts. Perhaps there's some issue with the absence of an opportunity for FDA oversight, but that doesn't sound like a drug distribution charge to me. Perhaps some knowledgeable attorneys can weigh in here.

In the meanwhile, here are six video clips we shot from our smart phones today, followed by a professional one by Robin Bell.

Also, updates will continue to be available from the Dr. Bronner's Twitter feed (and ours). And at VoteHemp for news on the Wyden-Paul Senate hemp amendment.

David explains the differences between marijuana and hemp:

 
David discusses the reasons he resorted to this civil disobedience:
 
 
And David harvests hemp plants and processes them into oil. (He later handed bread with hemp oil out to onlookers.)
 
 
Firefighters saw open David's iron cage:
 
 
Metropolitan Police Department officers calmly arrest David:
 
 
And David provides optimistic commentary from the back of the police car, before an officer closes the window:
 
 
And Robin Bell's video that you could have watched instead of ours:
 

Kenya to Distribute Needles to Injection Drug Users

In an effort to reduce the spread of HIV, Hepatitis C, and other blood-borne disease, authorities in Kenya will start distributing needles to injection drug users next month. Chronicle story here.

Federal Appeals Court Rejects Job Corps Worker Drug Tests

A federal appeals court has thrown out a Job Corps worker drug testing program, saying the government had not provided any reason to grant an exception to the Fourth Amendment's ban on warrantless searches and seizures. Chronicle story here.

Interview: David Bronner and the White House Hemp Civil Disobedience

Drug War Chronicle interviewed David Bronner, president of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, on Sunday prior to his Monday morning hemp civil disobedience at the White House. Chronicle story here.

Dr. Bronner's Head Arrested in White House Hemp Civil Disobedience Action

David Bronner, president of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, which imports more than 20 tons of hemp oil each year from Canadian farmers, was arrested by members of the DC Metropolitan Police Department after committing an act of civil disobedience within sight of the White House early Monday morning. Chronicle story here.

Hemp Civil Disobedience at the White House NOW

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David Bronner, president of the widely-known Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, locked himself in an iron cage with hemp plants (the non-psychoactive type) this morning to protest the federal government's ban on hemp. Dr. Bronner's uses hemp oil in its soaps, imported from Canada. There is a live stream at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/hempaction2, though I just got a malware infection message from my browser the site so proceed with caution. David is just being taken away to a police cruiser right now.

In a few moments I will be posting an interview Phil conducted yesterday with David, and a short news report on the action, and photos from this morning, which also discusses an amendment to the federal farm bill being submitted by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rand Paul (R-KY), the first Senate pro-hemp legislation.

Marijuana Discord on the French Left

France's Socialists don't want to legalize marijuana, but their likely coalition junior partners, the Greens, do. It's a start. Chronicle story here.

AG Holder Accused of Lying on Medical Marijuana Crackdown [FEATURE]

Attorney General Holder told the House Judiciary Committee Thursday that Justice is only targeting dispensaries not in compliance with state laws. Medical marijuana advocates called him a liar. Chronicle story here.

Bill O'Reilly Opposes Marijuana Decrim Because it Might Reduce Racial Profiling

This week's exciting news that Gov. Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg are backing an effort to end New York City's mindless marijuana arrest crusade didn't exactly result in a round of applause at the FOX News studios. Here's Bill O'Reilly babbling about it.

O'Reilly says the cops "know who the wise guys are," and they're only bothering people who deserve it. That sounds reassuring, oh, except for the fact that NYPD has already searched more young black men than they even have in the entire city. So yeah, they might be catching some of these "wise guys" as O'Reilly so eloquently describes them, but only because they're also searching every other young black man in the city. There is no clever strategy behind it. They're just searching all the black dudes. Stop trying to make it sound sophisticated, Bill.

But the real problem with O'Reilly's logic, and it also highlights the irony of whole ridiculous situation, is that there's no component in this new marijuana decriminalization proposal that would actually require police to stop constantly racially profiling everyone they see. That's not even what this is. 

Simple possession is already decriminalized in New York. The measure in question would simply downgrade the more serious charge of "possession in public view" so that racial profiling victims would no longer be charged with the public display of marijuana as a result of police ordering them to empty their pockets. The policy of police racially profiling people and illegally searching them remains intact under this plan. You just get off the hook if any pot is found during the course of police committing misconduct against you.

I'm still in favor of the reform – anything that might stop all these pot busts is great – but it's insane that they're actually going so far as to legalize "public display" of marijuana simply because they can't stop the cops from yanking pot out of people's pockets and then lying about it. New York's marijuana law wasn't really even the problem here and shouldn't actually need to be changed to prevent the racially abusive enforcement and prosecution scheme that's been going on in New York for the past decade.

These were false arrests to begin with and the most appropriate solution would be for police and prosecutors to stop systematically violating people's rights. But apparently that is more difficult than reducing the penalties for marijuana. Wow.

If You Think Marijuana Isn't an Important Issue, You're Dead Wrong

The newest tactic of legalization opponents is to roll their eyes and pretend that reforming our drug laws is a frivolous issue. My latest Huffington Post rant attempts to demolish that argument. Let me know what you think.

 

Obama and Romney Can't Ignore Marijuana Anymore

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It's kinda hard to pretend pot doesn't exist when almost everyone is talking about it. This week, both Reuters and  Associated Press dropped big stories about the implications of marijuana policy on the presidential election and the whole discussion is making Obama and Romney look a little silly.

Voters in this presidential battleground state won't just decide whether to go red or blue this fall but also green -- as in marijuana.

Whether to legalize marijuana will be on the Colorado ballot in November. President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney have identical stances on pot legalization -- they oppose it. And neither is comfortable talking about it.

Yet Obama and Romney find themselves unwittingly ensnared in the legalization debate -- and both may want to take it more seriously if their race in Colorado is close. [FOXNews]

It's really rather remarkable that one of the hottest debates in American politics right now is something neither major party candidate even dares to discuss. As accustomed as we are to having these issues ignored by people in positions of political power, there really is a point at which you just can't ignore it anymore and I think that might be exactly where we're finding ourselves at this very moment.

After all, if the President himself can't explain our marijuana laws to us in a way that makes sense, what does that say about our marijuana laws? A lot of people are seriously pissed off about this, and the longer Obama fails to defend it, the worse he looks. There is no excuse for a leader's failure to discuss public policy with the public. There just isn't.

And now we have a major swing state in which a legalization measure is polarizing the electorate around this exact issue. Obama and Romney will approach that situation how? By standing there like fools and saying nothing at all? By saying it isn't important, even though the voters think it is? Neither look is particularly flattering.

Saying something even slightly sympathetic about fixing our marijuana laws in some way would probably pick up a not-insignificant number of votes for whoever dared to do it. However loud we must make ourselves to get that point across, it is apparently at least a little louder than this, but that's okay because we're getting steadily better at making noise. 

Update: Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson is yet another factor here. Unfortunately, Obama and Romney are so similarly disappointing on this issue that we can't even be sure who will be more affected by Johnson's candidacy. 

Follow Scott Morgan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/drugblogger

(This article 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.)

CNN Guest Says We're Idiots for Caring About Marijuana Policy

Even as public opinion begins to shift in favor of marijuana reform, there remain some among us who just refuse to admit that this issue matters. In this clip, CNN contributor LZ Granderson viciously insults supporters of marijuana policy reform.

It's an arrogant and foolish display that completely misses the point of the drug war debate. It ought to be obvious that people care about this for reasons other than a personal desire to get high. If only pot smokers cared about this issue, it wouldn’t be polling at record levels and affecting the outcomes of important elections. Clearly there's much more at stake here, and those who don't understand the issue should begin by talking less and listening more.

Our marijuana laws cause an almost incalculable amount of destruction and anyone who can't see what's at stake here would be well advised not to call anybody else an idiot.

NY Pols Call for Marijuana Decriminalization Fix

New York decriminalized pot possession 35 years ago, but NYPD keeps arresting and jailing people for "possession in public view" after forcing them to empty their pockets. Now, the governor and NYC mayor are behind a change in the law to prevent that practice. Chronicle story here.

California Drug De-Felonization Bill Dies

A bill to make simple hard drug possession a misdemeanor instead of a felony was defeated in the California Senate by members who were afraid they could "see Amsterdam" on the horizon. Chronicle story here.

Detroit to Vote on Marijuana Legalization in August

Detroit elected officials' efforts to block city residents from voting to legalize marijuana have been shot down by the state Supreme Court. The issue should be on the primary ballot in August. Chronicle story here.

California Assembly Passes Medical Marijuana Regulation Bill [FEATURE]

A bill that would bring sorely lacking statewide regulation to California's medical marijuana industry passed the Assembly Thursday and now heads to the Senate. Chronicle story here.

Connecticut Becomes 17th Medical Marijuana State

Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy has signed a medical marijuana bill passed by the legislature last month. Chronicle story here.

Poll Finds California Not Quite There on Marijuana Legalization

A new poll show support for marijuana legalization below 50% in California and suggests some demographic groups that need some attention if it is to receive majority support. Chronicle story here.

Why Do Democrats Defend the Drug War?

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The rank hypocrisy of Obama's position on pot has been amplified rather dramatically by last week's revelation that he literally smoked more than his share of it back in high school. It's an important conversation to have, but I think this analysis by Paul Waldman in The American Prospect lands a little off the mark.

At the moment, there remains a strong incentive to support the status quo, lest you be targeted in your next race as some kind of hippie-lover. The incentives on the other side, on the other hand, are almost nil. When was the last time somebody lost a race for being too tough on drugs? The half of Americans who favor marijuana legalization are not an organized voting bloc that gets together to punish its opponents at the polls.

This is almost the opposite of what I've been saying lately, given that in just the past month, two different well-connected democratic candidates have collapsed under the weight of their unpopular drug war posturing. First, Oregon voters roundly rejected Dwight Holton in an attorney general race that focused heavily on his opposition to medical marijuana. Then, just yesterday in Texas, U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes lost the congressional seat he's held since 1996 in a primary challenge from outspoken drug policy reformer Beto O'Rourke.

Really, the whole notion that candidates who support reform will be labeled as "hippie-lovers," is nothing more than a fictitious cliché without a single good example to justify its utterance. Instead, we're witnessing the emergence of the exact opposite, a new dynamic in democratic races wherein a history of defending the drug war is a political liability that can be exploited to powerful effect by candidates who side with the majority of voters in favoring reform.

That's why it's so frustrating to see observers like Waldman, who supports reforming drug policy, nevertheless endeavor to uphold the notion that political realities require our leaders to do the wrong thing. If Obama were to read that analysis and find it convincing, Waldman would have succeeded in helping the President rationalize his refusal to support reform. We're hurting our cause when we say stuff like this, and worse yet, the idea itself isn't even true.

The truth is that a majority of voters actually do want the President to stop waging war on marijuana. It isn't in any politician's political interest to ignore public opinion while defending bad public policy. The smart play is to steer into the changing political current, just as Obama did with gay marriage, and the result is that public opinion itself begins to change that much faster. This is what's known as leadership, and when it comes to reforming our horrible drug laws, our politicians have everything to gain by speaking up and speaking out.

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