All this, I cannot bear to witness any longer...

swimmerguy's picture

So, you probably know, in Colorado, they passed an amendment to their constitution allowing marijuana to be used, bought, and sold by adults over 21, recreation-ally.
Another initiative here in my state of Washington passed, same story, by a healthy margin. (More people here voted for weed than for Obama)

Now, that's pretty fucking awesome.

So, on December 6, I think, Washington will be, for about a month, the only state to have marijuana legal for use, till Colorado joins us.

But all of this has sort of set off a legal clusterfuck.
Weed laws are, and always have been, weird. We right now have medical marijuana in Washington, but the thing is, it doesn't specifically legalize medical marijuana, just gives people with prescriptions a defense if they were to be arrested and brought to court over it.
So now, that's pretty much solved, it's explicitly legal.

But the new oddity is that on December 6, weed will be legal, for adults over 21, to have, and to use in private, but the state won't, for about another year, have set up the system to legally buy it.
So that's a bit of a weird gray area, but it'll be resolved pretty quick.

But one that's much more worrying is that the federal government still has it being illegal.
And they haven't yet said anything about what they're going to do.

Now, frankly, I think it's very unlikely the federal government will use federal funding and federal resources to ride into Washington, directly ignore the vote of Washington's people, and start prosecuting small time potheads.
Nor are they allowed to force Washington to ban it and prosecute people.
But they can possibly get a bit nasty, doing what they did for alcohol, and withhold federal funding for roads unless the states raised their alcohol ages to 21. (which is fucking annoying, you can be drafted at 18, but they won't let you fucking drink)

If they don't just ignore it, though, what they'll most likely do is sue the state to keep it from setting up a regulated market, which would be directly illegal under federal law.

But see, I'm not sure exactly how neurotic the feds are.

This could be a state's rights issue, since the Constitution only says the feds can regulate interstate commerce, and this weed will be grown, taxed, bought, sold, and used entirely within Washington.
But I'd feel uncomfortable using state's rights, mostly because it's such a versatile argument.

A great example of that would be Republicans.
Republicans passed, in 1996 I think, the Defense of Marriage Act, which said states don't have to recognize gay marriages performed in other states.
They framed it as a state's rights issue, they didn't want states to be forced to recognize marriages they found immoral.

But it wasn't much later they were trying to pass, by law or amendment, a federal ban, on all states, of gay marriage, though they failed then.
This time, it wasn't state's rights, it was because the moral need was just so strong, to them, that states couldn't be allowed to do something so incredibly heinous.

That failed, though with the Defense of Marriage Act, they hid what was really just anti-gay behind state's rights, and later when they tried to trample state's rights with anti-gay, that's why they failed.

State's rights is an incredibly flexible argument that can be used by almost anyone.

And yet, still, the feds' absolutely fascist attitude towards marijuana is looking increasingly out-of-date.
Even outside Washington, a pretty liberal state, polls have been finding a considerable rise in support for marijuana, nationally.
Support for legalizing it started at 12% in 1970, and has been rising almost every single year since, up to 50% last year, with 47% opposed to legalization.
http://www.gallup.com/poll/150149/record-high-americans-favor-legalizing...
And that's nationally.

Why not even Democrats and "liberals" in government at both the state and federal level don't share this view is becoming increasingly confusing.
In Congress, support for drug prohibition is basically unquestioned, a view held by conservatives and liberals alike.

And Obama, by American standards, a pretty liberal guy, his official policy says marijuana legalization will not be considered.

So I really, really don't understand why the federal government is so eager to ban it as much as they can, but it won't be easy this time.

Mostly because these measures weren't passed by some rogue state legislature, like other state laws they've struck down, but by citizen-initiated and popularly supported measures, voted on directly by the people of both states.

We'll see what they do.

For my part, I don't understand why they don't realize every argument they use was used 80 years ago to keep the ban on alcohol in effect.
No doubt, alcohol isn't good for society, it causes drunk driving, domestic abuse, overdose, and public health problems.
And yet, many things aren't "good" for society.
I love using football as an example. I hate football, I hate watching the sport, talking about it (playing it casually isn't so bad, though). Any my friends always do, and I'm forced to listen to them talk about this uninteresting shit. And my society spends huge amounts of money, resources, and time on this sport that I hate.
It can also be bad for health, people die or get injured playing football, all the time, and concussions happen that cause brain damage in later life.

And yet it's legal.
Why?
Because people like it, and it gives them a good time.
Even though it's dangerous and wasteful, people know the risks and the problems, and they accept them, and they go ahead anyway, and I can't argue with that.

Alcohol and marijuana are the same way. No doubt, society would be better and healthier without them, and yet they provide a good time, and if people know the risks and accept them, I see no reason we should stop them.

Even more compelling, prohibition just doesn't fucking work, the court process and jailing is expensive for non-violent drug offenders, doesn't stop their use, and provides huge amounts of money to violent drug cartels and gangs that could otherwise be used for public funding of education and the like.

As well as just being wrong.
Sure, if there's some person that gets into drugs, and gets addicted, and get destroyed by them, losing their job, family, etc., is jail really what they deserve?
Frankly, no, I think they deserve help to get them back on track.

Similarly, if there's an otherwise productive person who just smokes a joint once in a while, is jail really what they deserve?
One of the arguments to keep marijuana illegal is that it destroys lives, but the joke is that it's the illegalization that destroys lives, not the drug itself.
They'll get arrested, given the stigma of jail, likely be removed from their job, and in all ways just much worse of than they were before.
And that was all to protect society from the drug.
Even if they may have been fine using the drug, it was only the prohibition of the drug that destroyed them.

Drug prohibition is ineffective to what it tries to do, detrimental to the society it's supposed to help, and just plain morally wrong.
The best thing for the federal government to do would be allow these experiments in legalization to continue in Washington and Colorado, and then we'll see who's really right, rather than sticking with the same old, tired strategy.

Comments

Bosemaster42's picture

Yes,

It would be wise for the federal government to observe how this evolves over the next few years. We'll have to see what happens.
The funny thing is, marijuana isn't a narcotic in legal terms or in medical terms. It's actually more of a tranquilizer in many respects. Until people in the government become savy enough to understand the differences between all drugs, marijuana will still be incorrectly classified and perceived. I try my best to educate people, users and non-users alike.
It still amazes me how so many misconceptions persist to this day.

javier's picture

...

The people aren't ready. Do you understand?

jeff's picture

Well...

The feds did bust medical marijuana places that were legal in California, so never know...

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Hey, Sexy Lady! Oppan Gangnam Style...

swimmerguy's picture

As I understand it

The Obama Administration basically turned a blind eye to medical marijuana, but several District Attorneys in California apparently decided it was a serious enough problem to warrant prosecution.

So several districts in California had their medical marijuana dispensaries raided.
But that wasn't the Obama Administration or the Justice Department specifically cracking down.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xt5ghXdq6Z0&safe_search=on

jeff's picture

It is usually tied to Obama...

Bosemaster42's picture

Hey,

If it happened on his watch, the feds took action, he certainly knew about it. The dispensaries in California were under close scrutiny. The feds were just looking and waiting for an opportunity to close down those places. The fact remains, the fed knows marijuana has a strong market and they are scared shitless because of the daunting task of regulating it. There are still plenty of tight-ass conservatives, as well as, the left wing liberals, with their heads up their asses. I can only hope Colorado and Washington lead the way and show the government it is possible for this to work without increased crime and addiction as a result.

elph's picture

A very reasoned argument...

Expanding upon Jeff's link (above) to an article from last August, this HuffPost live interview/commentary is more up-to-date:
http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segment/509a923c02a760594d00032c

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My somewhat cynical (much too?) explanation for why we're so stuck with senseless laws and equally senseless enforcements: it ultimately can be traced to right-wing entities (primarily religious) whose philosophy is that no one should be allowed to enjoy themselves beyond that achieved through subservience to a mythology. This view is much-too-simplistic left on its own and requires extensive elaboration… but here's not the place!

As is often the case… a most impressive commentary!

And, I should add: I share your views on (American) football. To which I'm obliged to add boxing and all automobile racing! There're more, but those three top my list!

Bosemaster42's picture

Do we have to,

Use football as a scapegoat? I love football, yeah I'm well aware of the dangers, but I used to play. Just saying.

jeff's picture

Well...

It's not a scapegoat. It's an example. Stuff that can harm you that you're free to do.

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Hey, Sexy Lady! Oppan Gangnam Style...

Bosemaster42's picture

Oh yeah,

That's the main reason I stopped playing. The nature of the game is seemingly designed to injure. I messed my neck up pretty good, I'll stick with playing ice hockey.