Cato, Cannabis, Conference and Coalescing For Reforms

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director November 14, 2011

    Joining my colleagues and friends Morgan Fox of Marijuana Policy Project, Paul Armentano of NORML and Norman Stamper of LEAP, I’m an honored contributor to a series of essays published by the Cato Institute’s Unbound series on the topic of cannabis law reform and the war on some drugs.

    My essay examines 1) identifying concerns for reformers, 2) why cannabis law reform enjoys ever-increasing public support, 3) who supports continuing cannabis prohibition and 4) what are some steps to hasten reforms.

    Many thanks to Cato’s Jason Kuznicki for inviting an array of contemporary essays from the perspectives of active reformers!

    Allen St. Pierre, executive director, NORML, November 11, 2011:

    With so many onerous institutional discriminations and restrictions—and the price of medical cannabis remaining inordinately high because of the existence of cannabis Prohibition—patients who genuinely need access to this low toxicity, naturally occurring herbal medicine would be far better served by ending cannabis Prohibition entirely than in trying to carve out special legal exemptions to the existing Prohibition.

    The other essays in the series from Fox, Armentano and Stamper are found here.

    Speaking of Cato, tomorrow they’re hosting what I hope is a news-making conference in Washington, D.C. that examines the growing tide of public wont and scientific research in support around the world for a different direction then ‘prohibition’ laws for currently illicit drugs like cannabis, instead favoring the emerging public health and criminal justice doctrine of ‘harm reduction’.

    The line up of speakers and topics should not be ignored by the media and policymakers as Cato has assembled an impressive line-up:

    Former President, Brazil, Fernando Henrique Cardoso
    Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mexico, Jorge Castaneda
    Speaker of the House of Deputies, Uruguay, Luis Alberto Lacalle Pou
    Wall Street Journal, Editorial Board Member and Columnist, Mary Anastasia O’Grady
    Columnist Glenn Greenwald
    Law Professor and LEAP board member, Leigh Maddox
    Drug Policy Alliance, Director, Ethan Nadelmann, Ph.D
    Daily Caller, Editor, Tucker Carlson

    Video messages are expected from former President, Mexico, Vicente Fox and former US Secretary of State, George Schultz.

    Looks like you can watch the conference at Cato Live!

    19 Responses to “Cato, Cannabis, Conference and Coalescing For Reforms”

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    2. dbeall says:

      is there a video of this conference someplace.

    3. Andrew says:

      i love what you are doing keep it up and dont us down

    4. moldy says:

      Max@15 – AARP has not been a friend to us and the NRA has turned right wing showing no support for us either but other than that you’re right on point.

    5. max beasley says:

      organization is key! In order to push our agenda we need to align with other groups pushing similar agendas. The NRA is about individual rights and we can strengthen each other in numbers. The AARP (baby boomers) would be a great alignment. But the old saying of “Strike while the iron is hot” never rang more true than now, due to the state of the economy and lack of trust in Govt. Strength in numbers!

    6. Fireweed says:

      I looked on the CATO website and their list of targeted wasteful government programs they want to abolish, and nowhere on that list was the DEA. Interestingly enough, as much as the EPA is the most targeted by Republicans for cutting, the EPA actually appears to command a minute percentage of budgets. I wonder how much the DEA is costing us? and in addition, how much is it costing in human lives?

    7. David762 says:

      I truly do appreciate the great efforts that NORML and other like-minded organizations expend to help ‘coalesce reform’ of current drug laws. The international effort is also appreciated, because the War of Drugs like the War of Terror is a global issue, thanks in no small part to the undue influence of the USA and its Military Industrial Complex. The outcome of this conference will no doubt nudge some ‘fence-sitters’ off their ‘perches’, but realistically speaking is unlikely to actually affect true political reform and end the Drug War. Top-down change is unlikely because our political leadership holds proprietary commercial vested interests that are antithetical to the wishes of the governed.


      The old meme “All politics is local” still applies. Local governments and / or local LEOs that either see Medical Marijuana dispensaries as an ATM or have intrusive Right Wing Authoritarian / Fascist tendencies continue to get elected, in spite of a majority of constituents support for a specific agenda, in this case a liberalization of cannabis prohibition.

      Voters cannot rely upon any particular political party’s candidates for office, Democrat or Republican or Other, based solely upon their party affiliation. Right Wing Authoritarian / Fascistic tendencies of ‘our’ politicians know no party boundaries. That object lesson has been borne out by the results of the election of Obama to POTUS in 2008.

      Voters must extract concrete and definitive pro-cannabis policy platforms from these politicians Before they are elected to office and then Hold them to their explicit campaign promises, rather than accept nebulous campaign rhetoric as validation of Their intentions.

      If voters have the ability to recall politicians that don’t meet their standards of governance, then Use That Power. If that power doesn’t exist, then Validation Before Election is required, which admittedly takes greater Voter Participation rather than Apathy. If any elected politician reveals RWA tendencies, or doesn’t abide by a stated party platform plank Or campaign promise, then why should voters rely upon some vague or erroneous proposition that somehow such politicians will ‘change their spots’ and serve their constituents more completely in a subsequent term of office? Vote them Out Of Office, period!

      I get a bit tired of hearing about how any particular political candidate or other has no chance of winning election because of either lack of substantial campaign funding, or lack of ability to overcome whatever political roadblocks prevent their listing on the electoral ballot.

      This is the Internet Age, and there are reasonably well-connected alternative methods of communicating with and between constituents on important issues that transcend the need for mountains of campaign cash. Money doesn’t buy a single vote, but only influences lazy voters who will not think for themselves (who might even be too lazy to vote anyway).

      Every election ballot that I have ever seen has the provision available to ‘Write-In’ the candidate of the voter’s choice, even if that takes a few extra minutes and effort to do so. If your favored candidate isn’t on the ballot, then put him/her there yourself. That’s within your rights, so use it.

      Electronic voting machines have been used to fraudulently alter election results, and until their use is abolished there is an alternative that activist constituents can use — the paper Absentee Ballot, which is its own paper trail. Use this ballot, and mail it in Early — in fact, make a xerographic copy of that Absentee Ballot first, just in case.

      All of these methods can be used to overcome the undemocratic Corporatist influence on elections, both locally and nationally, as well as entrenched party dogma that limits the field of political candidates. If We The People are ever going to take back control of our government and country from the Kleptocratic Oligarchy, it’s going to take more effort and some little-used but quite legal tactics such as these.


    8. Ben says:

      heh,need a spell/grammar check in here 😉

    9. Ben says:

      Had I, myself the resources – I would do this,
      but as I do not, I put it before you, my colleagues in this fight to legalize what should have already been…

      I ask that we compile a PRO / CON list of EVERY SINGLE possible item. Then rule out the ones that are not clear-cut enough, nor provable.

      The end result would be something like this:


      +$0 court costs
      +$0 incarceration costs
      +$0 tax dollars lost due to jail time
      +$0 tax dollars lost due to jobs lost solely due to urinalysis
      +the drug warzone in Mexico would lessen,
      just as the streets of Chicago were safer after the
      repeal of the prohibition of alchol

      (this space left unavoidably blank…)

      once the think tank crafted it,
      it could be done as a petition-

      now, yes, I realized it was tried and failed-

      but that was on
      marijuana’s own grounds

      if we were to SELL the concept

      as in



      like the new Sparklematic 2100
      Feature – it has new sparkles
      Advantage – your teeth will glimmer and shine
      Benefit – you will get the girl!

      I know it was corny, but you get the point)

      it doesn’t appear that the legalization of marijuana will not happen due to the:
      -will of the people
      -lack of evidence for its illegality
      -logical argument

      IF we can wrap it up in

      partaker or not-
      they will: (likely)
      -not face staff/benefits cuts in government offices
      (many police and military have had benefits cuts due to lack of funds) THIS would help THEM
      -Mexico will improve its standard of living
      (many Americans have family there, and it is THE REAL DRUG WAR ZONE)
      -taxes wouldn’t have to be raised as much

      not to split hairs,
      but we need to SELL the concept
      not merely expect this mess to change because of intellect

      American policy setters are largely greedy
      appeal to their greed
      as their intellect has appeared to be lacking…

      ignore the brainstorming and crudeness of this

      use your abilities
      and craft a PRO CON argument
      get publicity

      shit, I will sit down on any camera
      and debate the legalization with anyone.

      appeal to their greed
      what do the non-smokers get?

      so far, it seems as ONLY pot-heads (and their families would benefit)

      make it clear that the citizens of this country THEMSELVES will benefit – then our concepts have a chance of being realized.

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