Obama's War on Weed

In a strange about-face, the president tries to hack medical marijuana off at the knees

Landlords, worried the feds will steal their property, will tell dispensaries to move out. Banks won't handle money for pot-themed businesses. Dispensaries will be taxed so heavily they won't be able to cover the payroll or pay the electric bill.

Yet it remains to be seen whether federal prosecutors, who undoubtedly have even more serious criminals with which to contend, are willing and able to carry out the threat. When Jack Gillund, Melinda Haag's spokesman, was asked whether her office had the resources to go after every dispensary or grower who doesn't comply with the 45-day deadline, he offered a simple reply: "No comment."

Lauren Horwood, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner in California's Eastern District, says Wagner's goal isn't to shut down everything. He's focusing on "large, professional, money-making operations — the commercial operations."

Horwood also says that it's wrong to call it "Obama's crackdown." She says the California U.S. attorneys decided to take action on their own because the situation has grown out of control among recreational users. But she acknowledges that they received Obama's blessing.

It's classic political strategy: Send the underlings out to take the heat, while the bosses hide under their skirts.

Either way, the end result casts Obama as even more zealous than George W. Bush. Bush threatened owners of dispensary properties in 2007, but never followed up. Meanwhile, Colorado and other states have seen no similar crackdowns. Only time will tell whether Obama plans to destroy the entire medical marijuana industry, or merely smack California around for a bit.

"I'm willing to give the Obama administration the benefit of the doubt," says Blair Butterworth, a Democratic consultant in Seattle, where about 100 dispensaries operate. "In California, they may be sitting on uncontrollable drug sales. They need to slap some wrists. "It's easy to pick on California, a state known for its excesses. But "the last thing Obama needs right now is to go to war nationally with the medical marijuana community," Butterworth says.

Leniency for marijuana users, medical or otherwise, continues to be a popular Democratic stance, he says. Butterworth is helping the campaign to put outright legalization on the Washington state ballot next year. He thinks it's got a good chance.

Of course, a successful election could just tick off the feds even more.

A million patients can't be wrong

An estimated one million people in California have obtained a doctor's recommendation to grow and use marijuana legally. More than 150,000 medical marijuana patients have registered in Colorado as of July. Tens of thousands of patients are registered in the other weed-friendly states. If the feds shut down every dispensary in the country, all these people will still be able to legally possess marijuana—no matter where they bought it—under their state laws. The only difference is they'll be forced to go back to buying their weed from Mexican drug cartels, rather than Americans who provide jobs and pay taxes.

It's akin to the feds saying that Anheuser-Busch can no longer sell beer; they'd prefer that people only buy from Al Capone.

Hey, wait—didn't something like that happen?

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3 comments
kay
kay

The concept that marijuana is in the same drug class as heroin or meth is ludicrous. Anything can be addictive such as food,sugar,caffeine,tobacco and of course alcohol. All of which are legal because we live in a free society wherein most people are strieving to be productive and because they feed the economy. Given the opportunity people make decisions about how to live for better or worse. They are not automatically drawn to someting just because it is accessible. William Buckley,Jr. who was about as conservative as one can get approved of legalizing marijuana. He wasn't a "user" per se but he experimented with the conclusion that for many people it was harmless. Alcohol for many people is a recreational take it or leave it drug but for others it isn't. The same is true of marijuana. Many people claim that it helps them medicinally. People will find what they want. This drug is safer than many of the perscription drugs people use or abuse. No one has died from an accidental overdose of marijuana. From a personal standpoint I could care less but as a reasonable deductive person it makes sense as a taxable revenue stream.

Dane
Dane

If big tobacco stood to make money on legal marijuana it would be 100% legal tomorrow with the army of lobbyists they have working for them.

bloodbath
bloodbath

No sir. It will only be legal if the "people" make it legal. Washington is not the "people". Marijuana is illegal because it offers insight about the constructs they created for us.

 
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