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December 02, 2012

What will be Obama's Pot Legacy?

In 1969, the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was struck down by the Warren Court in a case involving Timothy Leary. After such an event, the President (then Richard Nixon) is expected to submit legislation correcting the defect identified by the Court. In Leary, it was the finding that the MTA, forced “registrants” to incriminate themselves when attempting to purchase “marijuana” legally. In other words, the law as written was almost impossible to understand, not to mention comply with. It was clearly a clumsy back-door prohibition that rendered all hemp products illegal while naming only inhaled cannabis (“reefer”) as the culprit “narcotic.” Nor had the 1937 law provided any systematically gathered clinical evidence in support its allegations.

Nixon and his Attorney General, John Mitchell, went far beyond mere correction; they submitted the Controlled Substances Act, an omnibus drug prohibition bill based on several unsupported assumptions that built on the unproven assumptions of the original MTA. In other words, the Court, by endorsing Leary's rebuttal on the peripheral issue of self incrimination, had let stand the two most invidious assumptions made in the MTA: first, that "marijuana was dangerous and second, that those imagined dangers justified the re-imposition of prohibition, a failed concept that had been repudiated by amending the Constitution in 1933, but had been nurtured in principle by not recognizing that the Harrison Act represented exactly the same error in a different guise.

The CSA went even further; it created an algorithm based on simplistic (and untested) criteria that gave the US Attorney General full authority to determine if newly released “substances” should be listed on Schedule One(absolutely prohibited). Thus was inhaled cannabis, completely forbidden twice within a span of 32 years without benefit of any research whatsoever. It was the ultimate triumph of judicial logic over scientific skepticism, a latter-day vindication of Urban VIII's punishment of Galileo.

However, there had already been a huge change in the cannabis market that had existed in 1937: In 1960, it began to grow, a change completely missed by both the press and the FBN. Then, in i963, there was a blip in pot arrests that soon become a sustained trend. From 1965, the year Leary was arrested until 1969, when the Court overturned the MTA, rebellion was the message of youthful pot smoking “hippies” demonstrating against the war in Vietnam, even as President Nixon was declaring that “drug abuse” was the nation’s “most serious problem.”

Yet no one asked why "marijuana" had become so popular; even after the trickster was forced by Congress to appoint a committee to investigate its claimed medical benefits, he was able to brush aside its timid recommendation that it be studied with the passive approval of the same press corps would soon drive him from office for lying about Watergate.

It’s now 16 years since California passed Proposition 215; there are “Medical Marijuana” laws in at least 16 states. Nixon's DEA is clearly failing ingloriously and yet is still permitted to enforce his policy with a straight face because people who should know better look the other way and the legal system dithers. Our current President, raised by a single mother and himself an archetypal pot smoker in High School, had only one encounter with his biological father (at age 12) yet he allows US Attorney Melinda Haag to close California Dispensaries.

I’ve got news for President Obama: if he continues his support of the drug war, he will find himself on the wrong side of history- a strange place for a member of the “Choom Gang” who was once famous for “interceptions,” and “roof hits.”

One consolation is that his return to the Oval Office, gives us 4 more years in which to goad him into taking a closer look at his own childhood and adolescent pot smoking.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at December 2, 2012 08:28 PM