Feds won’t overrule states on marijuana laws

posted at 12:15 pm on October 19, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

In a shocking move, the Obama administration has decided to embrace federalism.  Well, not really all that shocking, as the Department of Justice plans to reverse a Bush administration policy of enforcing federal marijuana laws in states that allow for medicinal use of the substance.  The decision, to be officially announced later today, will impact fourteen states that allow for the possession and distribution of marijuana under varying levels of medical supervision:

Federal drug agents won’t pursue pot-smoking patients or their sanctioned suppliers in states that allow medical marijuana, under new legal guidelines to be issued Monday by the Obama administration.

Two Justice Department officials described the new policy to The Associated Press, saying prosecutors will be told it is not a good use of their time to arrest people who use or provide medical marijuana in strict compliance with state law.

The guidelines to be issued by the department do, however, make it clear that agents will go after people whose marijuana distribution goes beyond what is permitted under state law or use medical marijuana as a cover for other crimes, the officials said.

The new policy is a significant departure from the Bush administration, which insisted it would continue to enforce federal anti-pot laws regardless of state codes.

Fourteen states allow some use of marijuana for medical purposes: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

If we could count on this as an indicator for a trend towards federalism in the Obama administration, I’d call it the best development since Election Day.  Unfortunately, this is as much an aberration in the official approach to federalism as Bush’s insistence on overruling state authorities was to Bush’s overall view on federalism during his term in office, as Michelle reminds us today.  It serves as a reminder that Washington DC only discovers federalism when they can either make money off of it or save themselves a headache by invoking it.

Nevertheless, this is still a good development.  Not only does this forgo the spending of massive amounts of money in these fourteen states, it serves as an acknowledgment that states have sovereign rights themselves, including the right to make decisions about the legality of intoxicating substances.  Unlike the 18th Amendment, which gave the federal government jurisdiction over alcohol use and distribution for a brief period of prohibition, the federal government only has the jurisdiction over marijuana when it moves across state lines or national borders, and its use on federal land.

That acknowledgment may serve us well in other debates, especially on health care.  After all, if the Department of Justice now admits that it does not have the authority to override states on marijuana practices, then what authority does it have to force Americans to buy health insurance, through exchanges or anywhere else?  Where does Congress derive the authority to demand that states create those exchanges in the first place?  It will be interesting indeed to watch the federal government throw people in jail for refusing to buy health insurance while taking a pass on prosecuting marijuana distributors in California and Arizona.

On the point of marijuana, it also holds some promise as the first step in reviewing the war on the herb that costs us billions of dollars and infringes on personal liberties while attempting to protect us from ourselves — and a product less lethal than alcohol.  Maybe we can finally have a rational debate on at least this front of the “war on drugs,” which has done more damage to federalism than Democrats or Republicans combined.

Madison Conservative doesn’t share my enthusiasm for this precedent.  Be sure to read his take in the Green Room.


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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LKr4L4Zfn8

Del Dolemonte on October 19, 2009 at 3:05 PM

The use of pot is a waste of time, money, and lives.

Chris_Balsz on October 19, 2009 at 3:08 PM

STATES RIGHTS FOREVAH!!!

Constant Parrhesia on October 19, 2009 at 3:10 PM

The Feds won’t trump states rights on weed, but they will on Obamacare and owning a gun?

Hey, don’t bogart that joint my friend!

Atlanta Media Guy on October 19, 2009 at 3:14 PM

Because I am not drooling at the concept of legalizing pot, I’ve got an unprincipled position? Gimme a break. Better yet, pass whatever it is that you’re smoking.

highhopes on October 19, 2009 at 2:42 PM

No, you’ve got an unprincipled position because you said as much. You wont support the policy change because of some personal distaste for the way some potheads you know live their lives. Thats not a principled position, by any stretch of the imagination.

ernesto on October 19, 2009 at 3:17 PM

The use of pot is a waste of time, money, and lives.

Chris_Balsz on October 19, 2009 at 3:08 PM

True, but so is TV. On second thought, maybe you’re on to something. We could vastly improve society by outlawing TV.

Esthier on October 19, 2009 at 3:18 PM

Hey, don’t bogart that joint my friend!

Atlanta Media Guy on October 19, 2009 at 3:14 PM

You’ll need it.

Esthier on October 19, 2009 at 3:18 PM

Of all the problems in this country, I don’t get the fuss over marijuana. I’ve never tried it, but there is no chemical addiction and I’ve never been robbed by potheads (crackheads – yes).

Keep the drunk/drugged driving standards and prosecute the hades out of anyone caught behind the wheel under the influence and let the rest of the country be.

Laura in Maryland on October 19, 2009 at 12:22 PM

This is a serious issue to resolve. Alcohol testing is time specific and concentration specific. DUI (drugs) is much more nebulous. THC is fat soluble and remains in your tissues at detectable levels for up to 30 days. How do you prove or disprove ‘under the influence?’ The same is true, of course, for legally prescribed medications such as opiates.

Adopting zero tolerance rules seems to be the current mindset, and that works sooo well in our schools. /s

GnuBreed on October 19, 2009 at 3:19 PM

The use of pot is a waste of time, money, and lives.

Chris_Balsz on October 19, 2009 at 3:08 PM

And that judgement call is entirely irrelevant to the justifications of current marijuana policy.

ernesto on October 19, 2009 at 3:19 PM

Esthier on October 19, 2009 at 2:47 PM

inability to fall asleep right away isnt exactly a withdrawal effect ;-)

ernesto on October 19, 2009 at 3:21 PM

i can’t, for the life of me, understand how someone who calls themselves conservative can possibly fight so hard against a substance that costs our legal system, which is already stressed with REAL CRIMINALS (see rapists, dv offenders, murderers, thieves, and various other people of ill repute), SO MUCH MONEY (thats your money BTW people).
g76monte on October 19, 2009 at 2:55 PM

Then change the law jacka**. Pot users are real criminals. Their actions do affect others in society. That their crimes are non-violent does not mean that their actions are any less harmful.

If pot is so benign, why wasn’t it legalized long ago? This is where you dopers lose all credibility. You take a substance with real medical consequences and try to sell it as a health supplement.

highhopes on October 19, 2009 at 3:21 PM

No, you’ve got an unprincipled position because you said as much. You wont support the policy change because of some personal distaste for the way some potheads you know live their lives. Thats not a principled position, by any stretch of the imagination.
ernesto on October 19, 2009 at 3:17 PM

How so? What’s your position on meth production in apartment buildings?

Chris_Balsz on October 19, 2009 at 3:23 PM

inability to fall asleep right away isnt exactly a withdrawal effect ;-)

ernesto on October 19, 2009 at 3:21 PM

Certainly, though I imagine using it as a sleep aid can be a difficult habit to break.

But I’m talking about things like headaches and irritability.

Esthier on October 19, 2009 at 3:25 PM

How do you prove or disprove ‘under the influence?’ The same is true, of course, for legally prescribed medications such as opiates.

Adopting zero tolerance rules seems to be the current mindset, and that works sooo well in our schools. /s

GnuBreed on October 19, 2009 at 3:19 PM

As I’ve posted repeatedly on this thread, it is all about consistency. The potheads can bleat about individual rights or libertarian principles but it really boils down to the idea that the feds are selectively enforcing their own rules. The administration needs to decriminalize pot or enforce their own laws. I would suggest that Holder and the filthy lying scum in the White House (who is the new best friend to many on this thread) can’t be selective in enforcing federal law.

That being said, I’ve come the conclusion there is no difference between being a Libertarian and being a complete pothead. It goes so far in explaining Ron Paul supporters.

highhopes on October 19, 2009 at 3:25 PM

The use of pot is a waste of time, money, and lives.

Chris_Balsz on October 19, 2009 at 3:08 PM

In a free society, it is recognized that people have the inalienable right to waste their own time, their own money, and their own lives.

It’s a good thing that Republicans don’t believe in freedom any more than Democrats do–if they did, time might be wasted on pot!

hicsuget on October 19, 2009 at 3:26 PM

It goes so far in explaining Ron Paul supporters.

highhopes on October 19, 2009 at 3:25 PM

No, Paulbots have far more than pot in their blood.

Esthier on October 19, 2009 at 3:27 PM

And that judgement call is entirely irrelevant to the justifications of current marijuana policy.

ernesto on October 19, 2009 at 3:19 PM

“Hey man, you gotta make the argument I give you”

Chris_Balsz on October 19, 2009 at 3:27 PM

Here’s another tough issue for the right. This is a states rights versus federal rights issue.

I find it interesting that conservatives veer on this one, depending on the issue.

*tut tut*

AnninCA on October 19, 2009 at 3:28 PM

Esthier on October 19, 2009 at 3:25 PM

Well pot as a sleep aid isnt consistent, and neither are the headaches associated with ‘withdrawal’. Which is why its not considered addictive.

How so? What’s your position on meth production in apartment buildings?

Chris_Balsz on October 19, 2009 at 3:23 PM

Entirely irrelevant. As for how his position is unprincipled, its not based on any policy or ideological principle. Its based on the fact that he considers stoners a waste of life. I suppose it could be considered principled if he were consistent about it, but i doubt he’s looking to outlaw every substance and behavior that has negative effects on ones life.

ernesto on October 19, 2009 at 3:30 PM

Chris_Balsz on October 19, 2009 at 3:27 PM

To imply that pot wastes life is relevant to the discussion on the law, you’re opening your argument up to the insistence that you get consistent. If pots a waste of money or life and should be therefor banned, i posit that so is football, television, movies, music, and all empty calories, among other things.

ernesto on October 19, 2009 at 3:32 PM

That being said, I’ve come the conclusion there is no difference between being a Libertarian and being a complete pothead. It goes so far in explaining Ron Paul supporters.

highhopes on October 19, 2009 at 3:25 PM

I am a Libertarian and I voted for Bob Barr in 2008 — the Libertarian candidate for President. I support the repeal of pot laws and I do not smoke pot.

So put that in your pipe and smoke it ;)

GnuBreed on October 19, 2009 at 3:32 PM

Where do libertarians stand on code enforcement? If a citizen wants to raise hogs in his driveway, who dare say no, right?

Chris_Balsz on October 19, 2009 at 3:33 PM

To imply that pot wastes life is relevant to the discussion on the law, you’re opening your argument up to the insistence that you get consistent. If pots a waste of money or life and should be therefor banned, i posit that so is football, television, movies, music, and all empty calories, among other things.
ernesto on October 19, 2009 at 3:32 PM

Oddly enough, all things I subsidize with my taxes.

Chris_Balsz on October 19, 2009 at 3:34 PM

Where do libertarians stand on code enforcement? If a citizen wants to raise hogs in his driveway, who dare say no, right?

Chris_Balsz on October 19, 2009 at 3:33 PM

The state has a compelling interest in that case to protect the rights of others if you don’t have enough acreage or otherwise lack sufficient resources.

dedalus on October 19, 2009 at 3:41 PM

The use of pot is a waste of time, money, and lives.

Chris_Balsz on October 19, 2009 at 3:08 PM

I think the thousands of cancer patients whose lives have been improved be using pot would disagree with you.

BTW last time I checked there had never been a fatal marijuana overdose.

In fact, a 1988 ruling from the United States Department of Justice concluded that “In practical terms, marijuana cannot induce a lethal response as a result of drug-related toxicity.”[

Del Dolemonte on October 19, 2009 at 3:44 PM

Well pot as a sleep aid isnt consistent, and neither are the headaches associated with ‘withdrawal’. Which is why its not considered addictive.

ernesto on October 19, 2009 at 3:30 PM

That doesn’t change my argument that there are withdrawal effects associated with pot.

Esthier on October 19, 2009 at 3:47 PM

I love the way those of us who support this are immediately called “potheads.”

Y’know, it is possible to support medical marijuana without using it. That seems rather self-evident but apparently not here…

BlueStateBilly on October 19, 2009 at 3:51 PM

If pots a waste of money or life and should be therefor banned, i posit that so is football, television, movies, music, and all empty calories, among other things.

ernesto on October 19, 2009 at 3:32 PM

Ban FOOTBALL?!?!? Are you crazy, man?

At least you left my BBQ alone…

ladyingray on October 19, 2009 at 3:52 PM

The state has a compelling interest in that case to protect the rights of others if you don’t have enough acreage or otherwise lack sufficient resources.

dedalus on October 19, 2009 at 3:41 PM

Suggesting you would punish pot-dealers who don’t have enough liability insurance?

Who decides the necessary acreage, the government? Who decides the sufficiency of resources, the government?

Worse than a “police-state” enforcing a 1930s WASP vision of civic virtue, is a “free” society repressive according to pop culture and tastes. Marijuana, it’s about the liberty, man! Unregulated barbecue, whoa. Unregulated barbecue pits NEXT DOOR, that’s a pain in the ass, sue them into foreclosure.

I think the thousands of cancer patients whose lives have been improved be using pot would disagree with you.

I would really be more supportive if there was any scientific measure of dosage, instead of just toking until you get a hit, as if you were abusing it like a high school student.

Chris_Balsz on October 19, 2009 at 3:53 PM

Like others have said, let’s wait until he repeals all federal drug laws before heaping praise. It’s a decent first measure though, unlike literally everything else 0bama has and hasn’t done.

The Dean on October 19, 2009 at 3:54 PM

If pot is so benign, why wasn’t it legalized long ago? This is where you dopers lose all credibility. You take a substance with real medical consequences and try to sell it as a health supplement.

highhopes on October 19, 2009 at 3:21 PM

It was legalized long ago. It was legal up until 1936. It was legal and prevalent all through history up until that time. I would say the burden of proof would be on the side saying to criminalize and penalize citizens for it.

ThackerAgency on October 19, 2009 at 3:57 PM

True, but so is TV. On second thought, maybe you’re on to something. We could vastly improve society by outlawing TV.

Esthier on October 19, 2009 at 3:18 PM

TV is far more harmful to society than MJ, IMO.

FloatingRock on October 19, 2009 at 3:57 PM

I love the way those of us who support this are immediately called “potheads.”

BlueStateBilly on October 19, 2009 at 3:51 PM

To be fair, those who disagree with some aspect of this discussion are being called prohibitionists. The name-calling is unnecessary on either side, but that’s true of every political disagreement.

I would really be more supportive if there was any scientific measure of dosage, instead of just toking until you get a hit, as if you were abusing it like a high school student.

Chris_Balsz on October 19, 2009 at 3:53 PM

A hit is what you get after a toke. What you’re trying to say is toking until you get high, but as there are no concerns of people overdosing on pot, there’s no real need to say how high someone should get when taking it medicinally.

Esthier on October 19, 2009 at 3:58 PM

TV is far more harmful to society than MJ, IMO.

FloatingRock on October 19, 2009 at 3:57 PM

Maybe so, but the two are often linked, thereby proving MJ is indeed a gateway drug.

Esthier on October 19, 2009 at 3:59 PM

I personally believe the medical marijuana laws are pretty goofy. In LA, we’re having a huge problem. They are simply state-supported dope dealers.

BUT, I think the Feds should stay out of it.

AnninCA on October 19, 2009 at 4:05 PM

I do so long as it is against the law. You potheads want to legalize dope, change the law don’t demand that the laws get ignored.

highhopes on October 19, 2009 at 1:11 PM

Heh, nice logic.

“I only owned slaves because it was legal! I would be totally against it if someone would just change the law!”

SirGawain on October 19, 2009 at 1:30 PM

To be fair, comparing slavery and drug legalization is akin to open heart surgery and digging a splinter out of one’s hand.

I find it interesting that conservatives veer on this one, depending on the issue.

*tut tut*

AnninCA on October 19, 2009 at 3:28 PM

And the left has an interesting consistency issue in this regard as well: Roe v. Wade.

anuts on October 19, 2009 at 4:05 PM

TV is far more harmful to society than MJ, IMO.

FloatingRock on October 19, 2009 at 3:57 PM

…Not always, I’m just talking about some of the crap that so many people watch. Some of it is just a waste of time and some of it is actually harmful to civil society. There’s also some good programming too, though, so like anything in moderation….

In addition to TV, Massive online multiplayer roll playing games are more mentally addictive than MJ, IMO, and Caffeine is more physically addictive.

FloatingRock on October 19, 2009 at 4:05 PM

Maybe so, but the two are often linked, thereby proving MJ is indeed a gateway drug.

Esthier on October 19, 2009 at 3:59 PM

Milk?

anuts on October 19, 2009 at 4:06 PM

Milk?

anuts on October 19, 2009 at 4:06 PM

It was a joke about TV being the real drug.

In addition to TV, Massive online multiplayer roll playing games are more mentally addictive than MJ, IMO, and Caffeine is more physically addictive.

FloatingRock on October 19, 2009 at 4:05 PM

Sure.

Esthier on October 19, 2009 at 4:08 PM

Maybe so, but the two are often linked, thereby proving MJ is indeed a gateway drug.

Esthier on October 19, 2009 at 3:59 PM

LOL!

Seriously though, I’m sure some MJ smokers are like the couch potato in that commercial, but there are also plenty of non-smoking couch potatoes in America, and speaking for myself, I’m actually more active if I’m smoking MJ.

FloatingRock on October 19, 2009 at 4:08 PM

Gotta steal one from Homer Simpson:

“medicinal” *snicker*

corona on October 19, 2009 at 4:09 PM

In addition to TV, Massive online multiplayer roll playing games are more mentally addictive than MJ, IMO, and Caffeine is more physically addictive.

FloatingRock on October 19, 2009 at 4:05 PM

Sure.

Esthier on October 19, 2009 at 4:08 PM

In my experience, it’s true.

FloatingRock on October 19, 2009 at 4:11 PM

I’m actually more active if I’m smoking MJ.

FloatingRock on October 19, 2009 at 4:08 PM

That’s odd but not unheard of.

A friend has told me a story about a man who worked for his father paving roads. This man was the best employee his father had, so when he was caught smoking on the job, he was given a second chance but told he couldn’t smoke any more or would get fired. Then, coming into work sober and working sober, the man was messing up everything and couldn’t seem to do his job right. He was asked what the problem was, but the guy didn’t quite understand himself and only said he’d always done this high and had learned how to do it high.

So, my friend’s father told him to start smoking again. It worked.

Esthier on October 19, 2009 at 4:13 PM

In my experience, it’s true.

FloatingRock on October 19, 2009 at 4:11 PM

I’m not disagreeing. I’ve had my own caffeine issues in the past.

Esthier on October 19, 2009 at 4:14 PM

I’ve had my own caffeine issues in the past.

Esthier on October 19, 2009 at 4:14 PM

Migraines for me on sudden withdrawals. Yuck.

anuts on October 19, 2009 at 4:16 PM

Sure.

Esthier on October 19, 2009 at 4:08 PM

In regard to the caffeine being more physically addictive, that’s a fact. Caffeine addicts like me get headaches if we don’t get our fix on schedule. If we even cut back the dosage we suffer from pain and drowsiness that can last three or four days.

If there are any withdrawal symptoms from MJ at all, they barely register compared to caffeine withdrawal.

FloatingRock on October 19, 2009 at 4:17 PM

Suggesting you would punish pot-dealers who don’t have enough liability insurance?

Who decides the necessary acreage, the government? Who decides the sufficiency of resources, the government?

Worse than a “police-state” enforcing a 1930s WASP vision of civic virtue, is a “free” society repressive according to pop culture and tastes. Marijuana, it’s about the liberty, man! Unregulated barbecue, whoa. Unregulated barbecue pits NEXT DOOR, that’s a pain in the ass, sue them into foreclosure.

Chris_Balsz on October 19, 2009 at 3:53 PM

Where insurance is mandatory, say driving a car or operating a private aircraft then the state has a compelling interest to require higher rates or deny insurance to drug users.

If BBQ pits blow enough smoke into your neighbor’s house then there is an issue of contending rights. Similarly, if someone is growing weed on their property the state should be able to require a given level of security be undertaken in order to qualify for a license.

dedalus on October 19, 2009 at 4:18 PM

I’m not disagreeing. I’ve had my own caffeine issues in the past.

Esthier on October 19, 2009 at 4:14 PM

Sorry, I misunderstood.

FloatingRock on October 19, 2009 at 4:19 PM

Sorry, I misunderstood.

FloatingRock on October 19, 2009 at 4:19 PM

It’s OK. I realize the “sure” can sound like I’m being sarcastic. If we were talking in person, it would have been more obvious.

Esthier on October 19, 2009 at 4:21 PM

It is very important to strongly enforce the pot laws. Do you realize how many people would be out of well paying government jobs if we gave up the effort?

And speaking of wasted lives. What about all that time spent trying to catch fish and the lies told in pursuit of that evil habit?

And how about some laws against fat people? They think their crimes only affect themselves. There is no right to be fat in the Constitution.

And finally “Do you favor Drug Prohibition because it supports criminals or because it supports terrorists?”

MSimon on October 19, 2009 at 4:23 PM

If there are any withdrawal symptoms from MJ at all, they barely register compared to caffeine withdrawal.

FloatingRock on October 19, 2009 at 4:17 PM

There was a time when I thought I would smoke pot everyday for the rest of my life. Haven’t smoked it in 6-7 years. I did suffer a couple of withdrawal symptoms however. Violent increases in focus and short term memory.

anuts on October 19, 2009 at 4:24 PM

Esthier on October 19, 2009 at 4:13 PM

The connection between memory retention and state of mind with regards to MJ is well documented. If you study stoned, take the test stoned and you’ll recall more than if you study stoned and take the test sober. Same for if you study sober.

ernesto on October 19, 2009 at 4:26 PM

And how about some laws against fat people? They think their crimes only affect themselves. There is no right to be fat in the Constitution.

MSimon on October 19, 2009 at 4:23 PM

Since the Constitution is agnostic on the issue, it is left up to the states or the people per Amendment X.

anuts on October 19, 2009 at 4:27 PM

if the Department of Justice now admits that it does not have the authority to override states on marijuana practices, then what authority does it have to force Americans to buy health insurance, through exchanges or anywhere else?

They aren’t admitting they don’t have the authority, they are choosing not to exercise the authority they have.

Don’t smoke pot, and won’t smoke pot, but it should be legal for adults.

xblade on October 19, 2009 at 4:31 PM

Where insurance is mandatory, say driving a car or operating a private aircraft then the state has a compelling interest to require higher rates or deny insurance to drug users.

Also it is important to charge more to people who drink ANY alcohol. Do not get enough sleep. Or drive when they have a serious cold or the flu. The government needs to be monitoring people all the time.

If BBQ pits blow enough smoke into your neighbor’s house then there is an issue of contending rights. Similarly, if someone is growing weed on their property the state should be able to require a given level of security be undertaken in order to qualify for a license.

And if we make BBQ pits generally illegal we can require those allowed to own one to guard them 24 hours a day so it won’t be misused by those not allowed to own one. People have been burned by BBQ pits and other have gotten fat from eating the results of a well crafted BBQ. There is no right to BBQ or getting fat in the Constitution.

MSimon on October 19, 2009 at 4:32 PM

i can’t, for the life of me, understand how someone who calls themselves conservative can possibly fight so hard against a substance that costs our legal system, which is already stressed with REAL CRIMINALS (see rapists, dv offenders, murderers, thieves, and various other people of ill repute), SO MUCH MONEY (thats your money BTW people).
g76monte on October 19, 2009 at 2:55 PM
Then change the law jacka**. Pot users are real criminals. Their actions do affect others in society. That their crimes are non-violent does not mean that their actions are any less harmful.

If pot is so benign, why wasn’t it legalized long ago? This is where you dopers lose all credibility. You take a substance with real medical consequences and try to sell it as a health supplement.

highhopes on October 19, 2009 at 3:21 PM

how very ADULT of you, when you can’t fight facts, just fight like a liberal.

g76monte on October 19, 2009 at 4:36 PM

The connection between memory retention and state of mind with regards to MJ is well documented. If you study stoned, take the test stoned and you’ll recall more than if you study stoned and take the test sober. Same for if you study sober.

ernesto on October 19, 2009 at 4:26 PM

It’s also true with alcohol. But really, studying inebriated is never recommended.

Esthier on October 19, 2009 at 4:37 PM

This STINKS.

1. I am for the decriminilization [sp?] of most drugs, including pot.

2. I understand and approve of “appropriately” used prosecutorial discretion.

3. Federal laws should be enforced the same way in ALL states. Either the law should be enforced, or repealed!!

Ira on October 19, 2009 at 4:37 PM

How many times have you heard of a pothead smoking too much weed and then beating up the old lady? I don’t condone the use of drugs or alcohol, but how many times have you heard of someone drinking too much and then beating up the old lady?

tbear44 on October 19, 2009 at 4:43 PM

Drugs, abortion, gay soldiers, consulticiding old folks, are the calling cards of the beloved Obama, We’ve come a long way from the Judeo-Christian world I grew up in. The slipperly slope is way behind us now…

Don L on October 19, 2009 at 4:50 PM

And if we make BBQ pits generally illegal we can require those allowed to own one to guard them 24 hours a day so it won’t be misused by those not allowed to own one. People have been burned by BBQ pits and other have gotten fat from eating the results of a well crafted BBQ. There is no right to BBQ or getting fat in the Constitution.

MSimon on October 19, 2009 at 4:32 PM

People can have swimming pools, but it isn’t a bad idea to require fences around them.

As far as insurance goes, the premiums need to at least equal the payouts along with the operating expenses of the insurance companies. Premiums can be adjusted for risk factors or everyone’s rates can increase as individuals add risk to the system. The pie can be sliced any way one wants, but the total risk needs to be accounted for in the premiums.

dedalus on October 19, 2009 at 4:57 PM

This doesn’t seem like a huge win for Federalism.

They aren’t repealing the laws (or even pushing for their repeal).They aren’t saying, “The laws of the State trump Federal laws.”

They are simply saying, “Gee…it’s expensive to enforce these federal drug laws. We’re going to ignore them for now in these 14 states.”

While it is a slight win for the states, it doesn’t really seem to change anything.

JadeNYU on October 19, 2009 at 5:00 PM

SMOKE ‘EM IF YOU GOT ‘EM!

Hey seriously – this is good news for us in a “big brother” kind of way.

If the sweating liberal masses are out there sucking on a bong …

They’re less likely to participate in politics or vote right?

Just sayin’

HondaV65 on October 19, 2009 at 5:09 PM

That being said, I’ve come the conclusion there is no difference between being a Libertarian and being a complete pothead. -highhopes

Was that conclusion scientifically deduced, or arrived at using the same concrete logic that’s guided you through this entire conversation?

There’s no harm or shame in saying that you’ve got a predisposition to a certain perspective based entirely on your experience. That’s the beauty of freedom. However, to say that it’s OK to infringe on my freedom because you KNOW potheads are lazy detriments to society and they cause serious problems for everyone is a significant inhibition of freedom… which, by the way, is what this conversation should be about.

I’m starting to sound redundant, like Diane. /sarc

realityunwound on October 19, 2009 at 5:15 PM

Somehow, the idea that drugs have always been illegal has implanted itself firmly into the collective conscious. But we all need to take a closer look at the history surrounding prohibition. Prohibition and the War on Drugs are the exact same thing — An attempt to control man’s appetite for sin through legislation. They are merely two different faces of the same creature – the temperance movement of the 1800s. And although America thought it finally beat this monster back in the 1930s with the 21st amendment, the truth is that the war was just beginning.

The fact that most people don’t see the relation between the war on drugs and prohibition is perhaps one of the greatest marketing feats of the 20th century. They are the exact same thing… A small group of people believes that an activity is dangerous. — They try to convince people to stop partaking in that activity. — The people ignore them. — They convince the government to pass a law to abolish the activity. — The people ignore the law. — The people become criminals. — The people go to jail — People begin profiting by providing the illegal service to other people — People kill each other to protect their profits. — More people go to jail. — People begin asking government to rethink its policy.

We should legalize Marijuana and over night the criminals, politicians, judges, cops, and many others that profit from it being illegal will be out of business overnight. They will have to find a real job and more than likely it will be taxed to death just like the rest of the sins we tax.

To think we learned our lesson from prohibition, apparently not from some of the posts here.

BTW- I am retired Law Enforcement and do not smoke pot but am a proud member of LEAP

ScottyDog on October 19, 2009 at 5:16 PM

I did suffer a couple of withdrawal symptoms however. Violent increases in focus and short term memory.

anuts on October 19, 2009 at 4:24 PM

Focus is one thing. But the short-term memory… man I wrote that off as gone with the wind.

JohnGalt23 on October 19, 2009 at 5:34 PM

Then change the law jacka**. Pot users are real criminals. Their actions do affect others in society. That their crimes are non-violent does not mean that their actions are any less harmful.

If pot is so benign, why wasn’t it legalized long ago? This is where you dopers lose all credibility. You take a substance with real medical consequences and try to sell it as a health supplement.

highhopes on October 19, 2009 at 3:21 PM

It’s not so much that I’m offended by your intrusive philosophy but that I’m in awe of your inability to think for yourself. (I’m assuming that you’re ignorant and let the government think for you) As far as a “sell” is concerned; why should we have to “sell” our personal lives to you or anyone else. The government has been entirely deceptive on the issue of cannabis from the moment the issue has been deemed relevant. You need only to do a little research to ascertain that cannabis was made illegal once alcohol prohibition was repealed to keep the government positions, that onced busted barrels, necessary. But there’s more…… I challenge you to read up on the history. More importantly, I challenge you to mind your own business.

whiskeytango on October 19, 2009 at 5:43 PM

Somehow, the idea that drugs have always been illegal has implanted itself firmly into the collective conscious. But we all need to take a closer look at the history surrounding prohibition. Prohibition and the War on Drugs are the exact same thing — An attempt to control man’s appetite for sin through legislation. They are merely two different faces of the same creature – the temperance movement of the 1800s. And although America thought it finally beat this monster back in the 1930s with the 21st amendment, the truth is that the war was just beginning.

The fact that most people don’t see the relation between the war on drugs and prohibition is perhaps one of the greatest marketing feats of the 20th century. They are the exact same thing… A small group of people believes that an activity is dangerous. — They try to convince people to stop partaking in that activity. — The people ignore them. — They convince the government to pass a law to abolish the activity. — The people ignore the law. — The people become criminals. — The people go to jail — People begin profiting by providing the illegal service to other people — People kill each other to protect their profits. — More people go to jail. — People begin asking government to rethink its policy.

We should legalize Marijuana and over night the criminals, politicians, judges, cops, and many others that profit from it being illegal will be out of business overnight. They will have to find a real job and more than likely it will be taxed to death just like the rest of the sins we tax.

To think we learned our lesson from prohibition, apparently not from some of the posts here.

BTW- I am retired Law Enforcement and do not smoke pot but am a proud member of LEAP

Well said, sir!

whiskeytango on October 19, 2009 at 6:09 PM

But the short-term memory… man I wrote that off as gone with the wind.

JohnGalt23 on October 19, 2009 at 5:34 PM

Wait… What were we talking about again?

anuts on October 19, 2009 at 6:12 PM

Well… I have mixed feelings about this one. Great for states rights, but Pot? Seriously? I see the point that it does make sense to legalize it and therefore move valuable legal resources elsewhere, but I’m still not sold on the “pot is harmless” bit. “Less lethal than alcohol?” Well, that’s true if you don’t count carcinogens that you breath in with every toke. Then again, why does the government have the right to tell us what to do with our bodies when we aren’t harming other people….so confused.

Rightwingguy on October 19, 2009 at 6:45 PM

In other words, when Obamacare fails, Barry is hoping people are too baked to notice?

Or is this going to be the only medicine people will be able to afford as The Health Reform Follies unfold?

Obama may be trying to buy votes, but he fails to reckon on the poor memories of the stoners, who will probably both forget to vote and will have forgotten who got them the pot in the first place.

Wasn’t it Barry Goldwater, bro?!

No, man! It was that Baraka dude, the poet from Jersey.

A win-win, to my mind.

But not for Barack.

profitsbeard on October 19, 2009 at 6:46 PM

profitsbeard on October 19, 2009 at 6:46 PM

Well here’s how I see it. They’ve been talking about banning tobacco use in the military. Why? They pay for service member’s healthcare and it’s more expensive when they smoke/chew. If we get ObamaCare, they’ll not make pot legal because smoking that garbage is even worse than tobacco.

Problem solved…. I think.

Rightwingguy on October 19, 2009 at 6:50 PM

tbear44 on October 19, 2009 at 4:43 PM

No, but then again, they’ve never been useful to society. Unless you count “Towelie” from South Park…

Rightwingguy on October 19, 2009 at 6:51 PM

Well… I have mixed feelings about this one. Great for states rights, but Pot? Seriously? I see the point that it does make sense to legalize it and therefore move valuable legal resources elsewhere, but I’m still not sold on the “pot is harmless” bit. “Less lethal than alcohol?” Well, that’s true if you don’t count carcinogens that you breath in with every toke. Then again, why does the government have the right to tell us what to do with our bodies when we aren’t harming other people….so confused.

Rightwingguy on October 19, 2009 at 6:45 PM

Well at least you have an internal dialogue on the subject, you have my respect for as much. The notion that anything can accurately be deemed harmless is a pitfall. You’ll get stats on how many people die each year from aspirin, lightning strikes, carbon monoxide poisoning, slipping in the bathroom, ALCOHOL POISONING, ALCOHOL RELATED INCIDENTS, tobacco related, ad infinitem but never cannabis. Going by that standard we should outlaw all of the aformentioned causes of death? NOPE, of coarse not. Cannabis is not harmless! With that said find one substance that truly is, if harmlessness is the standard. The very air you breath isn’t “harmless”. Cannabis is benign relative to alcohol, pain killers (to include aspirin), tobacco etc. So many people, upstanding citizens, partake in the use of cannabis but are afraid to say so for obvious reasons. Sure there are idiots who smoke marijuana just like there are idiots that drive vehicles, drink alcohol, and work at daycare centers but should make criminals of them? Maybe, on a case to case basis but not on the whole. More importantly the issue remains in the fine balance of personal liberty vs. public safety. It’s a no brainer if one can do the thinking for themselves.

whiskeytango on October 19, 2009 at 7:07 PM

whiskeytango on October 19, 2009 at 7:07 PM

I agree with you on your major points. It could just be that I have such a negative idea of people who use pot that that could be making me think “pot=bad”. Just like anything (including my favorite vice, booze), if you become dependent on it, nothing good can happen.

I think in a lot of cases, there isn’t a lot of basis for the “OMG repealing law X will cause the death of society!!!11!!!”. Take DADT, I really don’t think repealing it will lead to an ineffective, effeminate, affirmative action force like some people believe. Or for that matter, women on subs, which has a few people riled up.

Progress…..great…I think.

Rightwingguy on October 19, 2009 at 7:15 PM

Well here’s how I see it. They’ve been talking about banning tobacco use in the military. Why? They pay for service member’s healthcare and it’s more expensive when they smoke/chew. If we get ObamaCare, they’ll not make pot legal because smoking that garbage is even worse than tobacco.

Problem solved…. I think.

Rightwingguy on October 19, 2009 at 6:50 PM

Firstly, I don’t think that anyone should be responsible for anyone else’s healthcare. (barring their children or spouse) The claim that marijuana has 4-6 more carcinogens per unit may be correct. Cigarette smokers avg. 1-2 pack a day. That’s 20-40 units per day whereas the avgerage pot smoker avg (personal experience here) 1-4 units a day. (4 being a stretch barring college students) do the math. You’d be better off dropping tobacco comparatively.

whiskeytango on October 19, 2009 at 7:16 PM

No, but then again, they’ve never been useful to society. Unless you count “Towelie” from South Park…

Rightwingguy on October 19, 2009 at 6:51 PM

You’re way off on this. Please Google the subject of who in history has been advocates for cannabis and get back to me on this.

whiskeytango on October 19, 2009 at 7:18 PM

whiskeytango on October 19, 2009 at 7:16 PM

My point was more in line that gov’t healthcare “deciding” on what you can put into your body and what you can’t based on whether it is “good” for you or not.

Point well taken on the average intake of carcinogens in cig’s verus joints, though.

Rightwingguy on October 19, 2009 at 7:18 PM

whiskeytango on October 19, 2009 at 7:18 PM

That was actually more of a joke, than a declarative statement. When I think “pot user”, I automatically conjure up a vision of “Towelie”.

Rightwingguy on October 19, 2009 at 7:20 PM

just make it legal,regulate & tax it like alcohol.

centryt on October 19, 2009 at 7:26 PM

Actually I looked up “Legality of cannibis by country” out of curiosity and found out that it’s illegal more than it is legal, but in some cases the laws aren’t even enforced. Doesn’t really move the discussion forwardm but still interesting.

BTW, I wouldn’t try the “pot is harmless” argument in Singapore. Last time I checked, transporting a drug into the country is punishable by death. Jaywalking is also illegal. When I was there a while back, I was REALLY afraid about unknowingly breaking a law and getting a canning.

Back to the topic at hand….

Rightwingguy on October 19, 2009 at 7:30 PM

whiskeytango on October 19, 2009 at 7:16 PM
My point was more in line that gov’t healthcare “deciding” on what you can put into your body and what you can’t based on whether it is “good” for you or not.

Point well taken on the average intake of carcinogens in cig’s verus joints, though.

Rightwingguy on October 19, 2009 at 7:18 PM

whiskeytango on October 19, 2009 at 7:18 PM
That was actually more of a joke, than a declarative statement. When I think “pot user”, I automatically conjure up a vision of “Towelie”.

Rightwingguy on October 19, 2009 at 7:20 PM

okay point taken, but with the state of things such as it is I have an obligation to retort regardless. People, good people, have their lives ruined over possession everyday. It’s sad and unnecessary and until we get the draconian laws repealed my humor on the subject will be nill. No offense to your sense of humor, though.

whiskeytango on October 19, 2009 at 7:32 PM

whiskeytango on October 19, 2009 at 7:32 PM

Well, I take issue with the argument that “good people have their lives ruined” by using pot. It’s not like there is any ambiguity on its legal status or they were forced to partake against their will. I do agree with you that prosecuting otherwise law-abiding citizens for personal use is over-kill and a mismanagement of limited resources. Child molesters, rapists, and murderers they aren’t. Why lump them in the same category?

Rightwingguy on October 19, 2009 at 7:36 PM

Pot is absolutely a gateway drug and it is funny to hear my pot head friends deny this as they snort a line of coke or pop some prescription pain meds.

If a state passes a law legalizing or decriminalizing it though, I’ll side with Federalism. I am consistant unlike our dear leader.

Daemonocracy on October 19, 2009 at 7:42 PM

True conservatism says that this should be legal. No one should give a crap what I or anyone does as long as I am not destructive towards others.

This is part of the bigger picture of socialized medicine and it is only the beginning. The NRA had better wake up and pick sides in this. Once healthcare is socialized, they will be able to do away with firearms through premiums. Now follow me –

1. Everyone HAS to have insurance
2. They will be the only providers of this insurance
3. This is “Supported” by the AMA (Who only represents something like 17% of all doctors).
4. The AMA did a series of “Public Health” studies in the 1990, one of which said that the mere presence of a firearm in the home makes the incidence of a child dying go up exponentially.
5. If you own a firearm, you can expect that study, by the good folks at the AMA to be used as the reason that you pay a prohibitive “Premium” to own you weapon. Got a gun and a kid? Get ready for all sorts of red tape as well as paying through the teeth for your “Premium”

Is my logic wrong? They will create a series of regulations to make it so difficult to own a gun for revreation or, heavens forbid, for you to protect yourself. They will have successfully done away with guns without having to go through Congress or even the courts.

Change you can believe in? Legalizing something that should be legal anyway is just the beginnig for this guy.

blaque jacques on October 19, 2009 at 7:45 PM

Well, I take issue with the argument that “good people have their lives ruined” by using pot. It’s not like there is any ambiguity on its legal status or they were forced to partake against their will. I do agree with you that prosecuting otherwise law-abiding citizens for personal use is over-kill and a mismanagement of limited resources. Child molesters, rapists, and murderers they aren’t. Why lump them in the same category?

Rightwingguy on October 19, 2009 at 7:36 PM

This is where we part ways. Your argument is predicated upon the fallacy that laws are the ultimate standard of right vs. wrong (in many cases liberty vs. tyranny)
Let’s transfer your logic to the historical instances of the laws mandating the return of runaway slaves, or women not being able to vote, or colored people not being able to drink from a white water fountain. Get the drift? Just because on decides to exercise an inherent right despite an erroneous law doesn’t speak to a moral turpitude on their part. It’s a direct reflection on the tyrannical law that “CAUSES” the issue to begin with. Would you hang a slave because he ran away? Of course not, that would be property damage, right? No the answer is slavery in wrong therfore I nullify the law in my personal actions. “overkill”? is a vast understatement. It sounds to me like you are a thinking person and I respect that. Maybe I’ve taken the issue several steps further in my own personal dialogue because I fail to see that with the evidence one could rationally conclude that the current state of affairs is anything but draconian.

whiskeytango on October 19, 2009 at 7:47 PM

Pot is absolutely a gateway drug and it is funny to hear my pot head friends deny this as they snort a line of coke or pop some prescription pain meds.

If a state passes a law legalizing or decriminalizing it though, I’ll side with Federalism. I am consistant unlike our dear leader.

Daemonocracy on October 19, 2009 at 7:42 PM

Gateway? to what? Statistically alcohol and tobacco are more gatewayish (if that’s a word). Your Daughter going on a date is statistically a gateway to premarital sex. Your son watching showtime after 10 is a gateway to masterbation. Not having statistics and educating yourself before you speak is a gateway to sounding ignorant. You go ahead and go to the ONDCP’s website and pull stats to back up your claim and I’ll gladly respond. I’m waiting.

whiskeytango on October 19, 2009 at 7:50 PM

Rightwingguy on October 19, 2009 at 7:30 PM:
Actually I looked up “Legality of cannibis by country” out of curiosity and found out that it’s illegal more than it is legal, but in some cases the laws aren’t even enforced. Doesn’t really move the discussion forwardm but still interesting.

Most prohibition in other countries is the result of pressure via US aid $.

gbear on October 19, 2009 at 7:54 PM

Rightwingguy on October 19, 2009 at 7:30 PM:
Actually I looked up “Legality of cannibis by country” out of curiosity and found out that it’s illegal more than it is legal, but in some cases the laws aren’t even enforced. Doesn’t really move the discussion forwardm but still interesting.

Most prohibition in other countries is the result of pressure via US aid $.

gbear on October 19, 2009 at 7:54 PM

Bingo! I live in Japan where a a flake on cannabis can land you in a TB ridden jail for 7 years. All thanks to treaties w/ the USA. The Emporer of Japan has a garden of cannabis growing on his compound. Ironic? You’ll see marijuana emblems on t-shirts, car decals etc from every demographic here but it’s illegal although being integral to the practice of shintoism. go figure.

whiskeytango on October 19, 2009 at 7:57 PM

whiskeytango on October 19, 2009 at 7:47 PM

I certainly agree with you that there are laws (many, as you kindly pointed out) that are wrong and need to be amended. In many cases civil disobedience is needed as well as legislative action to repeal these unjust laws. Henry David Thoreau had a very real problem with his tax money going towards supporting the Mexican-American War and he stopped paying his taxes because of it…and went to jail because of it. MLK had a very real problem with the racist and unjust Jim Crow laws so he (and many other brave men and women) broke those laws…and went to jail. The difference between these examples (and there are many more) and pot users, in my mind at least, is that when these people broke the law, they knew what that entailed and accepted that.

Pot use is illegal and there is no ambiguity about it being illegal. People also don’t accidentally smoke pot as a general rule. You argue that pot being illegal is unjust. Fair enough. You also argue that otherwise good people who smoke pot are lumped unfairly with more violent lawbreakers. I agree with that. The issue is that people who smoke pot and get caught will be punished under current laws. They know it just as well as you and I know it.

In my mind, if you decide to violate a law, no matter how unfair you might think it is, then you are accepting that you could get caught doing it and when you are caught, there could be some consequences. You smoke pot/ drive drunk/ jaywalk/ hit your little sister/double park you have to accept that their are consequences for those actions no matter how good and kind a person you are.

I agree that pot users are not violent offenders and to treat them like they were smoking crack, heroin, etc. is not right since there is a gradient between pot and the harder drugs. Shoot, I drink alcohol and pot is no worse or better than that. I also agree that it is quite possible to legalize it and not have society come to an end as little kids and puppy dogs turn into munchie-seeking zombies destroying mom and apple pie. My only disagreement with you is that when others broke the law, they knew that their actions had consequences. Pot users seem to not have realized that yet. That is my problem.

I also think you are a rational person and I most certainly respect your opinion, since you probably have much more life experience than I do. (I just graduated college). I appreciate your opinion on the matter and your willingness to discuss it with me.

Rightwingguy on October 19, 2009 at 8:07 PM

Bingo! I live in Japan where a a flake on cannabis can land you in a TB ridden jail for 7 years. All thanks to treaties w/ the USA. The Emporer of Japan has a garden of cannabis growing on his compound. Ironic? You’ll see marijuana emblems on t-shirts, car decals etc from every demographic here but it’s illegal although being integral to the practice of shintoism. go figure.

whiskeytango on October 19, 2009 at 7:57 PM

Dude…I am so jealous. Can I visit sometime?

Rightwingguy on October 19, 2009 at 8:10 PM

Rightwingguy on October 19, 2009 at 8:07 PM

I think we’re basically on the same page, with one exception in our reasoning. Of coarse, potsmokers know it’s against the law. But it’s a bullshit law. That’s my point. It’s much like the sodomy law. If you were caught, (and I’m not sure how this would work) in the act of sodomy it was punishable by death. Although, we all partake in (not excluding puritans either) in the definition of sodomy; if you don’t I feel sorry for you. Many, many people smoke pot because alcohol has a much worse effect on them. A mental vacation is an important repreive from the daily grind. I cringe at the fact that people lump cannabis in with heroin, coke, crack, ice etc. It’s such a non sequitur. In fact, cannabis is MUCH more benign than alcohol in most every way. If you ever feel the need to delve deeper into the issue then I’d be happy to further discuss this with you. Let me know and I’ll give you a way to contact me. It’s not my goal to convince anyone to partake in cannabis. That’s a personal decision; this is exactly my point to begin with. Personal decision that shouldn’t criminalize “offenders”. It’s important that this issue is clear in everyone’s mind just as any unjust law should be scrutinized and erradicated.

whiskeytango on October 19, 2009 at 8:19 PM

Dude…I am so jealous. Can I visit sometime?

Rightwingguy on October 19, 2009 at 8:10 PM

I’m sure Japan wouldn’t mind.

whiskeytango on October 19, 2009 at 8:20 PM

Bingo! I live in Japan where a a flake on cannabis can land you in a TB ridden jail for 7 years. All thanks to treaties w/ the USA.
whiskeytango on October 19, 2009 at 7:57 PM

I think you’re a little too trusting…If we could twist their arm with a treaty, we’d be selling more Chevys…

“Yankee, I not WANT lock you up like smelly bastard dog and forget, but my hand tied, so sorry…”

Chris_Balsz on October 19, 2009 at 8:24 PM

Ever heard of WW2? twisting of their arms is hardly appropriate considering we dropped nuclear bombs of two majory cities. Who am I trusting?

whiskeytango on October 19, 2009 at 8:31 PM

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