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February 15, 2012

What Opposition to "Legalization" Signifies, part 1

About the time I finally realized America's drug war was an enormous folly (circa 1995), I began growing impatient with people who acknowledge an awareness of the damage it inflicts, but feel constrained to add that they oppose “legalization.” One possible explanation for such logical inconsistency is fear of being thought to favor "drug use;" primarily because drug war propaganda has successfully conflated any support for “legalization” to mean just that. Indeed; that implication has long been favored by the DEA and NIDA, the two agencies created by Richard Nixon to implement and defend the bogus assumptions of John Mitchell's Controlled Substances Act.

Thanks to the ultimate global acceptance of those assumptions, the "logic" of the CSA has now been enforced as global policy for just over forty years and has amply confirmed the basic lessons taught by the failure of alcohol prohibition almost five decades earlier; namely that the lure of the profits made possible by illegal markets is irresistible to some; also that those profits enable the most capable criminals to amass huge fortunes. However, the most most basic lesson of all has either never been learned by politicians, or was quickly forgotten: only governments have the power to create illegal markets; thus any legislation that creates one is either an act of extreme stupidity or diabolical cynicism.

The muddled thinking of the CSA is in keeping with that analysis: Nixon's (Mitchell's) law ceded all control of "illegal drugs" to criminals and designated the US Attorney General- the one US Public official least knowledgeable about Medicine and Pharmacology- as the only one with the power to create new criminal bonanzas. Is it any wonder that both their number and share of the global economy have been expanding at an even faster rate than its human population since 1972? Did we ever speak of "drug cartels" and "Narco states" before the CSA became law?

It was clearly Nixon's insecurity that provoked the career-ending folly of Watergate; yet, paradoxically, his repressive drug policy, along with recognition of China, have been his most enduring legacies. That the latter may have obviated direct Chinese intervention in Vietnam does not make up for the former's devastating effects.

Once understood, the durability of the illogical “anti-legalization” shibboleth exposes several additional inconsistencies. Among the most glaring are the conflicting rulings of the US and California Supreme Courts. Federal law states clearly that all production of "marijuana," a Schedule One "substance" is a crime, yet the US Court, in its first ruling on the matter did not strike down the initiative process that enabled Proposition 215 to become state law. The next significant judicial decision on the issue involved Myron Mower, a critically ill California man who has since died. The state court ruling established several protections for patients accused of violating state law. Alleged violation of those conditions now constitute the great majority of marijuana arrests by local and state police. As I have learned from a variety of sources, including direct participation as a witness in a limited number of trials, there is a woeful lack of uniformity throughout the state. In essence California DAs are now free to prosecute medical marijuana "crimes" by whatever standards they can get away with in their home counties.

The Mower case also established two venues for prosecution Medical Marijuana "crimes." The forbearance of the federal court was confirmed by the Raich decision, which tacitly affirmed that “marijuana” may have medical benefits while ruling that growing it could be seen as somehow affecting interstate commerce. That ruling was quickly interpreted as meaning that federal law “trumps” state law and soon resulted in federal arrest warrants for four patients already charged in different parts of the state. Contrary to what one might think in a nation that supports fairness and finds double jeopardy abhorrent, those summary transfers of jurisdiction were not considered either unfair of illegal by the legal establishment; simply another case of “two sovereigns.”

More on this subject later,

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at February 15, 2012 08:21 PM