Obama's Other Option: Legalize It for Everyone?
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Obama's Other Option: Legalize It for Everyone?
Posted by CN Staff on December 08, 2012 at 09:51:19 PT
By Patrik Jonsson, Staff Writer
Source: Christian Science Monitor 
Atlanta -- With half or more Americans now favoring legalizing marijuana, President Obama has one bold option that few experts are talking about: Raising the white flag and ending the federal war on pot.To be sure, many legal experts believe the US Department of Justice instead is preparing to block new regulatory schemes passed by voters last month in Washington and Colorado that legalize and regulate the selling, possession, and use of marijuana. One option is to invoke Article 6 of the Constitution, which says federal law is "the supreme law of the land."
But despite the constraints of the 1970 Controlled Substances Act in which Congress cemented its stance that marijuana is highly dangerous and has no legitimate medical use, the Obama administration does have legal authority to relabel marijuana as either a less dangerous drug or, as Washington and Colorado have done, classify it alongside alcohol as a legal drug. Such a move could partially or wholly end federal marijuana oversight."Maybe this will be the moment when the feds are prepared to revisit marijuana prohibition," says Josh Meisel, co-director of the Humboldt Institute for Interdisciplinary Marijuana Research in California. "At the federal level … I could see a scenario of marijuana regulation" ending.At the very least, Washington and Colorado have laid a Gordian knot on the President's desk.How, exactly, does the US respond, given that a recent Gallup poll finds that 63 percent of Americans want the federal government to leave the two states alone? Moreover, legal experts say, the laws are not at their core contradictory to federal policy.Both state schemes will continue to regulate marijuana in ways designed to curtail, not promote, its use. In Colorado's case, tax revenues will go to local school districts. In Washington, police will be able to pull over stoners and prosecute them for intoxicated driving if they've had too much to smoke.The legal issues are complex, and any response by the Obama administration could have broad policy repercussions on everything from enforcement priorities to how it would affect international antidrug treaties."Should the Justice Department prevail, it would raise the possibility of striking down the entire initiatives on the theory that voters would not have approved legalizing the drug without tight regulations and licensing similar to controls on hard alcohol," writes the New York Times' Charlie Savage.So far, the only action the federal government has taken is US Attorney Jenny Durkan's stern warning to Washington residents that "growing, selling, or possessing any amount of marijuana remains illegal under federal law."The fact that hundreds of Seattle pot smokers blew off that warning and lit up unmolested by law enforcement on Thursday, the day the law took effect, underscored how little actual enforcement power the federal government has, given that most pot busts are handled by local and state police. (Seattle police arrested no one and instead referenced the stoner movie "The Big Lebowski" in a statement that said, "The Dude abides, and says, 'Take it inside.'")To be sure, there is lots of pressure on Obama from law enforcement officials for the administration to take a stern, contradictory view of what voters in Colorado and Washington have done – suggesting concern from the right that a potential legal tipping point is at hand on federal marijuana policy. Yet the political stakes are huge for Obama, who famously wrote about being a member of a pot-smoking "Choom Gang" while a teenager in Hawaii.“It’s a sticky wicket for Obama,” Bruce Buchanan, a political science professor at the University of Texas at Austin told the New York Times this week, adding that any aggressive move would be seen as “a slap in the face to his base right after they’ve just handed him a chance to realize his presidential dreams.”Meanwhile, there is a viable path open for Obama to effectively end federal marijuana prohibition, though it could leave him open for criticism that's been leveled at Obama before by Republicans: that he's end-running Congress. At the same time, about 35 percent of Republicans support legalizing marijuana as a states' rights issue, according to Nov. 6 exit polling."In theory, the DEA, in consultation with the secretary of health and human services could move to reschedule marijuana – legally, the administration has that power," says Robert Mikos, a law professor and federalism expert at Vanderbilt University, in Nashville. "That said, making it an unscheduled substance would be a very dramatic change. If that were to happen, it would be politically easier to do in the last days of [Obama's] second term."Would that mean America would instantly become a giant pot bazaar? Hardly."Ending federal oversight of marijuana would in essence just throw it back to the states, and currently we have 30-some states that criminalize simple possession and a dozen or so that have decriminalized it, and now a couple that have completely legalized it," explains Mr. Mikos. "In that case, marijuana [policy] would just become a matter of state law." Source: Christian Science Monitor (US)Author: Patrik Jonsson, Staff WriterPublished: December 8, 2012Copyright: 2012 The Christian Science Publishing SocietyContact: letters csmonitor.comWebsite: URL:  -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #16 posted by FoM on December 10, 2012 at 10:28:02 PT
You're welcome. We might not all talk as much as we did but we know where we are and care about where we are going. It has been quite a journey for many of us here. I sort of stand in awe of it all sometimes. Thank you and everyone!
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Comment #15 posted by Hope on December 10, 2012 at 09:54:52 PT
"There is no giving up our effort to end the war on drugs once you realize what is really at stake."Yep. It's kind of been the motto around here, at C-News, and for reformers everywhere, that have stepped up here on this soapbox, from the start.Dang. This has been a good soap box. FoM has kept it in such good repair these many years. It's served so many of us so well.Thank you, FoM.
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Comment #14 posted by The GCW on December 10, 2012 at 05:36:49 PT
CO medical use news.
Colorado will rewrite med pot business rules by Dec. 28
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Comment #13 posted by sinsibility on December 10, 2012 at 02:53:23 PT
Astute article from Alternet today
Lewis Lapham- Why the war on drugs is a war on human natureA quote from this article says it all:
"The war cannot be won, but in the meantime, at a cost of $20 billion a year, 
it facilitates the transformation of what was once a freedom loving republic 
into a freedom fearing national security state."There is no giving up our effort to end the war on drugs once you realize what is really at stake.
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Comment #12 posted by Hope on December 09, 2012 at 15:35:46 PT
Comment 10
Beauty and flowAfterburner.That comment is so beautiful it looks like it should be written on swirling ribbons.
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Comment #11 posted by Hope on December 09, 2012 at 15:33:47 PT
I so agree with that, Afterburner.
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Comment #10 posted by afterburner on December 09, 2012 at 13:31:56 PT
I too am Praying for Obama
To do right to free God's medicine would please the Creator and let His blessings flow to His people.
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Comment #9 posted by schmeff on December 09, 2012 at 12:57:55 PT
The Constitution is NOT a Menu
"One option is to invoke Article 6 of the Constitution, which says federal law is "the supreme law of the land." If the Constitution is to be the "decider", then it becomes moot. The Constitution doesn't give Congress the authority to control substances. It's not complicated. Our Founders based our Constitution on a concept of limited Government. The authority to control substances is a god-like power, an unlimited power. A government with such powers inevitably becomes a tyranny, since absolute power corrupts absolutely.With the Constitution, you don't get to pick a couple items from column A and a couple from column B. It all counts or none of it counts.Article 6 of the Constitution does not authorize federal law to be "the supreme law of the land" while acting unlawfully, or unconstitutionally. Anyone defending the Drug War using comments like those quoted above should send your BS meter into the red zone. 
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Comment #8 posted by Hope on December 09, 2012 at 12:55:56 PT
Who is the hightest ranking politician
in the United States of America?Who is the highest ranking authority in all the land of the United States of America? Who is the highest ranking commander of the armed forces of the United States of America? Who is the head of the entire Congress of the United States of America? Who is the elected President of the Union of these States? For now. It's all temporary, of course.Who owns him?Hopefully, no one, and he has wisdom and we, The People, can trust him to do the right thing.Choom.I'm praying for him. My beliefs call for me to do so, "To pray for those in authority."
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Comment #7 posted by The GCW on December 08, 2012 at 20:31:17 PT
Washington legalized it and then what happened? 
"Most notably, not a bit of the sky fell, the earth continued to rotate on its axis, and Seattle went on with its business completely unconcerned with a bunch of people openly smoking pot.", if the feds come in and crush the will of voters it will in fact be the first time the sky actually really did fall in, regarding the cannabis issue.-0-
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Comment #6 posted by Hope on December 08, 2012 at 19:13:41 PT
Comment 4
That paper is disturbing, HempWorld, and likely completely true. Those old robber barons had extraordinary power to manipulate people and governments. They owned, manipulated, and controlled everything and anything they wanted to, including governments. And some of them, maybe all of them, like Rockefeller, left legacies and heirs that still control and still hurt and ruin people's lives even to this day. Because they had and have the amount of money that can give them that sort of power. Robber barons AND busybodies. They've done a number on humanity over the cannabis plant.
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Comment #5 posted by HempWorld on December 08, 2012 at 16:43:41 PT
And By The Way...
It's a refreshing change to see this article in the CSM!Onward and forward...
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Comment #4 posted by HempWorld on December 08, 2012 at 13:45:07 PT
Of Course Obama Wants To Legalize It!
But his Master, Rocky, is telling him no!Who is going to win this one?Rocky or Obama?
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Comment #3 posted by Hope on December 08, 2012 at 10:50:17 PT
The GCW and FoM.
I also agree.
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on December 08, 2012 at 10:26:27 PT
I agree.
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on December 08, 2012 at 10:07:37 PT
End the sequel to alcohol prohibition.
There are many options that could take place. It seems only a small few would be bad news. Many more of the options equate to good news.While it doesn't seem confusing, for Obama, it may be complex. Consdidering, the U.N. spew, foreign pressures, appointees discrimination leanings, etc. and doing the right thing. How to do the right thing or let the right thing happen with out causing Him grief.And Obama has to realize cannabis IS GOING TO BECOME LEGALIZED. He could make history by being the prez that made that needed rational change happen. Because in the end, like the original prohibition with booze, ending the sequel will be thought of as the right thing to do.
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