December 10, 2012. Seattle. Last month, voters in Washington State and Colorado legalized the recreational use of small quantities of marijuana, taxed and regulated by the state just as alcohol is. 18 states and DC have already legalized it for medical use, and that was one thing. It’s difficult to fight against cancer patients, AIDS victims and war amputees. But putting it on the same level as alcohol is another. And forces are mobilizing to take the 2 laws down before people get too used to smoking pot.
WA and CO await Obama and Holder's response to their legalization of marijuana.
State and federal law
“Seventy-nine years ago today, alcohol prohibition ended,” Aaron Houston from Students for Sensible Drug Policy said last Thursday, “At midnight tonight, personal protection for marijuana use and possession go into effect in Washington state and Colorado’s law will be implemented soon. This is the beginning of the end of marijuana prohibition, and it’s because of all of us. Thank you for being part of this moment in history.”
Aaron Houston and SSDP aren’t exaggerating. They, and many others, see the recent legalization and regulation of marijuana as the largest step in the fight to end prohibition against the plant since medical marijuana first became legal in California in 1996. For those fighting for the legalization of marijuana, something that was literally only a pipe dream 25 years ago, Washington and Colorado are the wedge needed to force the issue on the federal government.
President Obama and the feds
According to numerous media accounts including the New York Times, the Obama administration ‘has been holding high-level meetings since the election to debate the response of federal law enforcement agencies to the decriminalization efforts.’ Ironically, while running for President in 2008, Obama was a vocal supporter of medical marijuana, as well as unspecified reforms of current marijuana laws. Once elected however, he flip-flopped on the issue and has escalated the government’s war on medical marijuana even more than his Republican predecessor George Bush.
Just as Attorney General Eric Holder has repeatedly sent in armies of heavily armed assault troops arresting wheelchair-bound patients at California marijuana clinics, many fear the President and Attorney General’s response will be even more callous and violent than in California.
Few are aware, thanks to media black-outs and the obvious hypocrisy of President Obama, but the federal government actually operates its own medical marijuana dispensary and facilitates a federal program that grows, chops, rolls and delivers marijuana to medical patients. Yet the President can continually go before the American people and claim that marijuana is against federal law.
Read the Whiteout Press article, ‘Feds Guilty of their own Crime on Marijuana’ for additional details.
The anti-legalization response
Government sources and media outlets alike are citing local law enforcement agencies on the municipal, county and state level as supposedly appealing to the federal government to crack down on both Washington and Colorado citizens attempting to smoke marijuana. As detailed in the above referenced NY Times report, ‘Some law enforcement officials, alarmed at the prospect that marijuana users in both states could get used to flouting federal law openly, are said to be pushing for a stern response.’
On the eve of Washington’s actual legalization of marijuana, the White House refused to comment for reporters or release a statement. Staffers instead referred the press to a statement released by the Justice Department earlier that day.
From the US Attorney out of Seattle, Washington, the statement read in part, “In enacting the Controlled Substances Act, Congress determined that marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance. Regardless of any changes in state law, including the change that will go into effect on December 6 in Washington State, growing, selling or possessing any amount of marijuana remains illegal under federal law.”
Propaganda machine unleashed
As if coordinated by larger forces, a tidal wave of anti-marijuana stories have been circulating the internet since Washington and Colorado legalized it on Election Day. As just one example, the conservative political activists Accuracy in Media released a scathing article immediately after the law in Washington took effect.
First blaming billionaire George Soros for the successful marijuana legalization efforts, the publication goes on to tell the story of a father who claims his son went insane from smoking pot. They quote a story published in Briton’s The Independent detailing the story of Henry Cockburn, the son of a professional journalist.
Accuracy in Media writes, ‘Henry, who smoked marijuana daily for seven years and was in mental hospitals for about eight years as a result, says, “When I reached a mental hospital, called St Martin’s, I spent three hours walking around the lunch tables trying to listen to my shoes. I thought my shoes were talking to me.”’
The conservative group goes on to say of Henry’s father, ‘Patrick Cockburn spent months speaking to the experts in the field and reports on the substantial evidence linking sustained marijuana use with mental illness.’ They quote Patrick also remarking, “Three-quarters of consumers may take cannabis with no ill effect but the remaining quarter, the genetically vulnerable, play Russian roulette.”
For scientific evidence, AIM quotes Oxford University professor Sir William Paton, who says, “Even limited social use of cannabis could precipitate schizophrenia in people who previously had no psychological problems” and “Smoking a single joint could induce schizophrenia-like symptoms such as hallucinations, paranoia and fragmented thought processes.”
It’s true that smoking marijuana can bring about slight feelings of paranoia, as in ‘do you think they can tell I’m high? I think they can tell I’m high.’ But the wildly inaccurate stories of kids hearing Jimmy Hendrix music and jumping off school rooftops thinking they can fly were universally discredited decades ago. Sadly, the fear-mongering efforts appear to have begun once again.
With Washington State quickly figuring out how to facilitate legalized marijuana, Colorado will soon be joining them. And depending on President Obama’s response, the party may be over as fast as it started.