Posts tagged ‘Obama’

Obama’s ‘Change’ Not So Different from Bush Polices

Today, a federal judge sentenced Charles Lynch to one year and one day in prison (366 days).

Mr. Lynch legally distributed medical marijuana under state law in California. However, because he violated federal law, he was tried in a federal court. In court, he was barred from presenting the key evidence: distribution of medicinal marijuana in California is legal.

A few months ago, Attorney General Eric Holder revealed that the Obama administration would only target those who violate both federal and state law. Lynch’s trial began over a year ago, and Holder did not specify the fate of those whose sentences were still pending.

If the polices have shifted, what is the point of keeping Lynch in prison? In the future, people like Mr. Lynch will never even have to stand trial, let alone be sentenced (assuming the Obama administration honors this promise). Therefore, Obama should pardon Mr. Lynch,  just as Ford pardoned Nixon, relieving him from any criminal record or time in prison.

Call the White House Comment Line at (202) 456-1111 and tell Obama that you expect him to pardon Charles Lynch outright. Sample script below:

Hello. My name is ________ and I am calling because Attorney General Holder previously stated that the Obama administration would not punish individuals who distribute and use medical marijuana legally under state law. Charles Lynch was sentenced today to a year in prison for this very charge. While his arrest occured before Obama took office, I expect Obama to pardon Mr. Lynch to demonstrate his dedication to this change in policy.

(Note: While I respect NORML’s request that commuting the sentence would be acceptable, I disagree. Commuting just saves Lynch the prison time, but it does not acknowledge that conviction should never have happened in the first place. Therefore, I expect nothing less than a full pardon for Mr. Lynch).

June 11, 2009 at 2:33 pm Leave a comment

Obama Insults Internet Voters

While it would have been a shock to see Obama declare his intent for legalizing marijuana in the town hall meeting today, his actual response was even more shocking. (The video is also available on YouTube).

“There was one question that was voted on that ranked fairly high and that was whether legalizing marijuana would improve the economy and job creation, and I don’t know what this says about the online audience” – Obama

What does it say about the online audience? It says that we’re serious. Marijuana was not just one high-ranking question. It was more like fifteen high-ranking questions.

It says that we’re aware of our economic troubles. It says that we understand the consequences of Prohibition. It says that we are intelligent enough to vast sums of money being wasted on a completely counterproductive war (not to mention the opportunity cost of all the tax revenue).

Obama just cracked a joke that reinforces the ‘stoner’ stereotype. This is a slap in the face of everyone who supports drug policy reform – be they users of marijuana or not. 

It’s pretty easy to contact the President, by email, online form, written letter, or (best of all) a phone call. Tell Obama how disappointed you are.

 

Dear Mr. Obama,

I was extremely disappointed by your town hall talk this morning. In your response, you managed to brush off fifteen of the top questions on the Open for Questions forum. In doing so, you also insulted the people who took you at your word when you opened a forum to hear our voices.

The fact that so many people support marijuana policy reform is not a joke. It shows that we are concerned citizens who care about the economy, about crime, and about civil liberties. Mr. Obama, you yourself have admitted to smoking marijuana. To imply – as you did – that everyone who supported these fifteen questions is a marijuana smoker, and then to imply that this is a laughing matter is blatantly disrespectful to many, many people who helped you win your seat in the Oval Office.

Two states voted to reform their marijuana laws during the 2008 election: Michigan and Massachusetts. In both states, more voters supported the marijuana policy reform laws than the Obama/Biden ticket. Please do not insult and alienate such a large audience. We voted on these questions because we wanted to hear a respectful answer. What we got was a slap in the face and the realization that our president is completely unwilling to listen to an enormous plurality of his constituents.

We are extremely offended by your response, and we hope that you will apologize to all the online voters – both those who smoke marijuana and those who do not –  and subsequently reaffirm your campaign trail commitment to reforming marijuana policy.

 

Sincerely,

__________

March 26, 2009 at 4:07 pm 2 comments

Marijuana Tops Open for Questions Again

Open for Questions is open again, and you can ask Obama questions directly. Voting ends tomorrow morning at 9:30, and he will answer the questions at 11:30.

It should come as no surprise that marijuana is an important topic. Fifteen questions about drug policy reform are in the top ten of their category. That is, the top two questions under ‘Green Jobs and Energy’, the second question under ‘Jobs’, the top four questions under ‘Financial Stability’, and the top seven questions under ‘Budget’. 

Clearly, people understand that marijuana policy reform is important for a variety of reasons. Make sure Obama receives this message so loudly that he cannot brush the question off again. Vote now.

The current top questions per category:

Budget:

  1. “With over 1 out of 30 Americans controlled by the penal system, why not legalize, control, and tax marijuana to change the failed war on drugs into a money making, money saving boost to the economy? Do we really need that many victimless criminals?”
  2. “Mr. Obama, Thank you for allowing us to ask our questions to you, unfiltered. What is your stance on legalizing marijuana federally, taxing it and regulating much like alcohol and tobacco? I believe that the Drug War has failed, and needs overhaul.”
  3. “I am not a marijuana user, but I do believe that making marijuana legal could provide some relief as to it could be heavily taxed and regulated. Legalization of marijuana will also be a detriment to the drug cartels in Latin America.”
  4. “Have you considered legalizing marijuana and taxing/regulating it like alcohol? Marijuana is America’s largest cash crop. The tax revenue from marijuana sales would provide a massive source of new revenue and cut the insane costs of the “Drug War.””
  5. “Mr. President, we the people continue to ask you this general question, please do not fail to respond: Will you allow science and common sense to reign and end this failed WAR ON DRUGS starting with the legalization and taxation of Marijuana?”
  6. “Should the recreational use of marijuana be legalized and taxed if it will help California reduce its budget deficit? How will you and the federal government respond if such a law is passed by the California legislature?”
  7. “Are you willing to seriously consider the idea of curtailing the failed & expensive drug war in favor of a fair, responsible policy of decriminalization? With Mexican gangs, drug-related disease, & addicition going unchecked we need another solution.”

Green Jobs and Energy:

  1. “”Will you consider decriminalizing the recreational/medical use of marijuana(hemp) so that the government can regulate it, tax it, put age limits on it, and create millions of new jobs and a multi-billion dollar industry right here in the U.S.?””
  2. “Has your administration given any serious thought to how legalizing marijuana could help solve the economic crisis? We could tax this green product and create an influx of cash while reducing violence created by the war of drugs & illegal trafficking”

Financial Stability:

  1. “Would you support the bill currently going through the California legislation to legalize and tax marijuana, boosting the economy and reducing drug cartel related violence?”
  2. “Has the administration given any thought to legalizing marijuana, as a cash crop to fuel the economy? Why not make available, regulate, and tax something that that about 10 million Americans use regularly and is less harmful than tobacco or alcohol.”
  3. “Growing up I have noticed many around me always talk about legalization of marijuana, and I always thought, why not put a tax stamp on it. If marijuana was legalized it could really change a lot of things. America had the same problem with Alcohol.”
  4. “Could legalizing marijuana and laying a tax on it, given restriction allow the government make back some of the glaring debt considering it’s inelasticity and the history of economics of prohibition?”

Jobs:

  1. “As a student, who like so many others works full time and attends school full time, only to break even at the end of the month. What is the government doing to make higher education more affordable for lower and middle class families?”
  2. “What are your plans for the failing, “War on Drugs”, thats sucking money from tax payers and putting non-violent people in prison longer than the violent criminals”

March 25, 2009 at 6:43 pm 1 comment

Eric Holder Renews Commitment to Drug Policy Change

On Thursday, US Attourney General Eric Holder explicitly stated the Obama administration’s new stance on medicinal marijuana. While his earlier comment left some room for ambiguity, the new statement makes the chance in policy unequivocal:

“The policy is to go after those people who violate both federal and state law, to the extent that people do that and try to use medical marijuana laws as a shield for activity that is not designed to comport with what the intention was of the state law. Those are the organizations, the people, that we will target. And that is consistent with what the president said during the campaign.”

For the time being, this will allow states to effect their own medicinal marijuana laws properly. However, because this is strictly a policy of the Obama administration, the goal of lifting the federal ban on medicinal marijuana remains important because future administrations could reverse this policy. Still, this policy change will facilitate the legislative change that needs to follow. This is a very important step in the quest for drug policy reform.

March 23, 2009 at 2:14 pm Leave a comment

Needle Exchanges: Change We Can Believe In

Just a few months ago, many of us were fretting over the rumors that Jim Ramstad, an opponent of needle-exchange programs, would be Obama’s new pick for drug czar. 

Just yesterday, the Obama administration indicated unequivocally that it would abandon the ‘war on drugs’ paradigm for needle exchanges in favor of a harm reduction approach.

Ethan Nadelmann, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said of the shift:

“These statements really indicate a significant shift,” he said. “It’s not just a repudiation of the Bush administration, it’s a repudiation of the Clinton administration. This signals a new direction in US drug policy. This is about all the leading scientists and all the public health people pushing in the same direction and Obama saying he’s putting science above politics.”

This increases my optimism about the nomination of Gil Kerlikowske for drug czar, a man who – though a police chief – has reportedly complied with the local needle exchange programs and marijuana deprioritization. Hopefully, the United States will soon follow Seattle’s lead and adopt a ‘lowest priority’ policy with regard to marijuana as well.

March 17, 2009 at 2:05 pm Leave a comment

Clear the Road for Medical Marijuana Scientific Research

Poor Professor Lyle Craker. All he wants is a license from the DEA that will allow him to grow marijuana for scientific, research purposes. Guess what the DEA refuses to give him?

Craker, of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, intends to use this marijuana for research – probably into one of its many medical uses, like the treatment of cancer, HIV/AIDS, Crohn’s disease, or Multiple Sclerosis. This isn’t news; he’s been asking for this permit for a few years.

Currently, all marijuana used for research purposes must be provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which is a federally run organization. Recall what you may have learned Economics 101: if there is only one (legal) provider of a good/service, the situation is known as a monopoly. The NIDA claims that their supply is large enough, but people like Craker disagree.

The only way to advance the cause of medicinal marijuana is through scientific research (because  the 17,000+ existing studies apparently don’t count). And if research is blocked, then, well, we’re at a standstill – at least until something changes.

For this reason, the Drug Policy Alliance asks that you send a letter to ensure that Obama acts to protect scientific resarch. Full text of the letter after the jump.

(more…)

March 15, 2009 at 11:15 am Leave a comment

Script for Calling the White House

This is adapted from the email I received from the DPA (using their talking points):

Hello. I am calling because I just read that the DEA made several raids recently on medical marijuana patients and providers in California. I’m calling to urge President Obama to put a stop to this.

I know that President Obama said last year that, as president, he wouldn’t waste law enforcement resources undermining state medical marijuana laws.

And yesterday, spokesman Nick Shapiro reaffirmed that the President’s views have not changed.

I would like President Obama to uphold his campaign promises and stop the raids on medical marijuana patients.

The direct number for the White House comment line is (202) 456-1111, but it is often engaged. To be put on hold, call the main line at (202) 456-1414 and ask to be transferred to the comment line. You will be on hold, but not for too long.

February 6, 2009 at 3:14 pm Leave a comment

Obama Busted for Marijuana Possession?

…George Obama, to be exact. Thanks to Adam for this tip.

President Barack Obama’s half-brother George, who lives in Kenya, was arrested yesterday for marijuana possession.

This is more a matter of amusement, as I doubt little will come of it. George Obama is not exactly close to President Obama, and the fact that he has been arrested in a foreign country for using a substance that our last three presidents have admittted to using is, well, trivial.

More trivial than Bristol Palin’s daughter’s grandmother’s arrest, anyway.

I would be very surprised if Obama’s critics decided to use this to smear our new president, and even more surprised if anybody took it seriously. This would be even easier to brush off than the Ayers ‘scandal’. Not to mention that Obama has already set a precedent for separation between a politician’s family and work life with his response to the news of Bristol Palin’s pregnancy this fall.

January 31, 2009 at 6:16 pm Leave a comment


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