“When a joint was making the rounds, he often elbowed his way in, out of turn, shouted ‘Intercepted!’ and took an extra hit.” – “Barack Obama: The Story,” by David Marinass
MARIJUANA DECRIMINALIZATION is long overdue, with medical marijuana a societal benefit that should be respected and embraced instead of treated as a crime. Both would be more likely if we didn’t have so many politicians preening they were above inhaling or didn’t have a past of pot-smoking.
We are not our parent’s generation and that’s a good thing.
This story was teased in Mike Allen’s Playbook, for those of you who don’t start your mornings there.
The picture above is from Buzzfeed, titled “Choom Gang.” You say wha?
A self-selected group of boys at Punahou School who loved basketball and good times called themselves the Choom Gang. Choom is a verb, meaning “to smoke marijuana.”
As the video above reveals, Obama admits he wouldn’t want to use “a whole lot of political capital” on the issue of medical marijuana. That’s one thing, but the Obama administration has instead led a crack-down on medical pot that exceeds anything George W. Bush did.
It’s change that’s very hard to believe in.
ROLLING STONE: Let me ask you about the War on Drugs. You vowed in 2008, when you were running for election, that you would not “use Justice Department resources to try and circumvent state laws about medical marijuana.” Yet we just ran a story that shows your administration is launching more raids on medical pot than the Bush administration did. What’s up with that?
PRES. OBAMA: Here’s what’s up: What I specifically said was that we were not going to prioritize prosecutions of persons who are using medical marijuana. I never made a commitment that somehow we were going to give carte blanche to large-scale producers and operators of marijuana – and the reason is, because it’s against federal law. I can’t nullify congressional law. I can’t ask the Justice Department to say, “Ignore completely a federal law that’s on the books.” What I can say is, “Use your prosecutorial discretion and properly prioritize your resources to go after things that are really doing folks damage.” As a consequence, there haven’t been prosecutions of users of marijuana for medical purposes.
The only tension that’s come up – and this gets hyped up a lot – is a murky area where you have large-scale, commercial operations that may supply medical marijuana users, but in some cases may also be supplying recreational users. In that situation, we put the Justice Department in a very difficult place if we’re telling them, “This is supposed to be against the law, but we want you to turn the other way.” That’s not something we’re going to do. I do think it’s important and useful to have a broader debate about our drug laws. One of the things we’ve done over the past three years was to make a sensible change when it came to the disparity in sentencing between crack cocaine and powder cocaine. We’ve had a discussion about how to focus on treatment, taking a public-health approach to drugs and lessening the overwhelming emphasis on criminal laws as a tool to deal with this issue. I think that’s an appropriate debate that we should have.