Highest greetings from London, where I’m
resting up from my little tour of Ireland, Scotland and the UK with Mr.
Nice called Breathin’ Air with Howard Marks & John Sinclair and
smoking some tasty locally-grown medicine while I’m here. I intend to be
back in Amsterdam by the time you read these words and cashing in my
new Dutch prescription for 10 days worth of cannabis at a gram a day, as
well as enjoying recreational marijuana over the counter at the 420
I’ll pick up my eye-witness coverage
of the attempted adulteration of the Dutch coffeeshop culture in my
next column, but this week the good news is all coming from the States,
where a new Angus Reid Public opinion poll reveals that fully two-thirds
of American adults believe that the drug war is failing and a majority
says that marijuana ought to be legalized.
According to the poll, only 10
percent of respondents believe that the so-called “War on Drugs” has
been successful, while 66 percent deem it a "failure." Pollsters also
found that 52 percent of Americans support the legalization of
marijuana, versus 44 percent opposed. This is the fourth consecutive
survey conducted by Angus Reid to report majority support among
Americans for legalizing marijuana.
I’m not clinging to a lot of hope
for the success of the 2012 Michigan Marijuana Initiative because of the
severe underfunding of the effort, but there’s very encouraging news
from several other fronts in the U.S.A.
In Colorado a recent Rasmussen
Reports poll of likely state voters found that 61 percent favor
legalizing and regulating marijuana like alcohol, while only 27 percent
opposed the concept. This bodes well for the chances of the passage in
November of Amendment 64, the ballot initiative aimed at eliminating
civil and criminal penalties for the limited possession and cultivation
of cannabis and regulating the commercial production and distribution of
marijuana by licensed retailers.
Widespread support for Amendment 64
includes NORML, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Colorado,
SAFER, Sensible Colorado, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP),
Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), the Drug Policy Alliance, and
the Marijuana Policy Project.
And finally moving from the voters’ initiative route to legislative action on medical
marijuana, on June 1st Connecticut became the 17th state since 1996 to
legalize the limited use of cannabis for therapeutic purposes, and New
Hampshire lawmakers have sent Senate Bill 409, which allows for the
personal possession, cultivation, and use of cannabis for therapeutic
purposes, to Governor John Lynch for his signature.
Governor Lynch, a Democrat, has
opposed SB 409—passed by more than two-thirds of House members—and
previously vetoed similar legislation in 2009. The 13 to 9 Senate vote
in favor is two votes shy of the necessary two-thirds majority necessary
to override the governor’s expected veto this time.
Republican Senator Jim Forsythe, the
bill's prime sponsor, said that he would continue lobbying to gain the
two additional votes to insure an override of the anticipated veto.
"Most senators now agree we have a moral obligation to protect seriously
ill patients from being arrested in our state," he said. Amen to that!
The news from the federal front,
however, is not at all encouraging, as Tara Culp-Ressler from Think
Progress summarizes: Justice Department Targets Medical Marijuana
Despite Increasing Support For Legalization. Despite the fact that
medical marijuana may be legal in up to 24 states and the District of
Columbia by the end of this year, the Department of Justice (DOJ)
continues to crack down on medical marijuana on the federal level.
Federal prosecutors have been
pressuring the landlords of medical marijuana shops in California to
either shut down their shops or risk losing their property under a civil
statute originally designed to allow the government to seize
drug-trafficking organizations’ assets.
The Obama administration has
continued to restrict medical marijuana despite the fact that 3/4 of the
American public believes the federal government should back off
enforcement against medical marijuana in states where the drug is
What is with our president? Last
month a new biography drew a vivid portrait of young Barry Obama as a
wigged-out college pothead sometimes known as The Interceptor for his
practice of jumping his place in the toking order and seizing the joint
in progress prior to appointed turn.
As a candidate for president in 2008
Obama promised to leave state-approved medical marijuana alone, but
since taking office his so-called Department of Justice has continued
and extended the insane anti-marijuana policies of the Bush
For example, as Angela Lee reports
in AlterNet, the number of drug offenders in prison and jail, or on
probation and parole, continues to skyrocket. During 2009, the first
year of the present administration, almost 337,500 people were
incarcerated for drugs in the United States, nearly twice as many as the
179,070 being held in 1990—only 20 years earlier.
Even more alarming is the number of
drug offenders in federal prisons, which has exploded from 30,470 in
1990 to almost 100,000 in 2009. (In 1980, there were only 4,900
prisoners housed in federal facilities for "drug" offenses, less than 5%
of the present number.) The conviction of "drugs" means that possession
or sales of an illegal drug was the person's most serious offense, even
if he or she were convicted of multiple offenses.
Ms. Lee points out that this
analysis omits counts for "drug" offenders in local jails, even though
these facilities housed an estimated 767,434 inmates in 2009.
Anthony Gregory, a research
assistant at The Independent Institute, wrote an impassioned plea in the
Huffington Post for an end to this madness, arguing that “The entire
drug war is a monstrosity, a crime against the Bill of Rights, the
greatest contributor to gang violence, a wholesale attack on our civil
liberties and the right of individuals to control their own bodies.
“Characterizing drug problems as a
criminal justice issue has been an unmitigated failure, except for
serving law-enforcement special interests, growing the bureaucracy, and
deepening the pockets of drug kingpins who profit off this madness…. No
result of legal cannabis could be as bad as what we have now.
“Since October 2009, the Obama
administration has executed over 170 SWAT raids of dispensaries. But
right now, 3/4 of Americans—including 2/3 of Republicans—want these
federal raids against state-legalized medical marijuana dispensaries to
“If ever there was an issue where a
president was out of touch with the American people, especially with
those in his own party, the war on marijuana is it.
“The war on pot is hypocritical and
immoral. It needs to end. Unfortunately, the prison and police lobbies
want to keep this calamitous crusade going, because the war on pot is a
lynchpin for the rest of the drug war. The DEA and Drug Czar require
marijuana to be included in their data on illicit substances, which they
use to make the drug problem appear as big as possible.”
Gregory concludes with a serious
challenge to all of us: “If the American people want to end the misery
of the war on pot, it will take more than a casual opposition to the
laws. We must rally against the entire prohibitionist mindset and the
cult of absolute power.”