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The Hill.com: “Voters Say ‘No’ To Pot Prohibition”

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director November 27, 2012

    I have an op/ed today online at The Hill.com’s influential Congress blog (“Where lawmakers come to blog”).

    Read an excerpt from it below:

    Voters say ‘No’ to pot prohibition
    via TheHill.com

    Voters in Colorado and Washington made history on Election Day. For the first time ever, a majority of voters decided at the ballot box to abolish cannabis prohibition.

    … Predictably, the federal government – which continues to define cannabis as equally dangerous to heroin – is not amused. According to various media reports, the Justice Department is in the process of reviewing the nascent state laws. Meanwhile, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has already affirmed that the agency’s “enforcement of the [federal] Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged.” That may be true. But in a matter of weeks, the local enforcement of marijuana laws in Colorado and Washington most definitely will change. And there is little that the federal government can do about it.

    States are not mandated to criminalize marijuana or arrest adult cannabis consumers and now two states have elected not to. The federal government cannot compel them to do otherwise. State drug laws are not legally obligation to mirror the federal Controlled Substances Act and state law enforcement are not required to help the federal government enforce it. Yes, theoretically the Justice Department could choose to prosecute under federal law those individuals in Colorado and Washington who possess personal amounts of cannabis. But such a scenario is hardly plausible. Right now, the federal government lacks the manpower, political will, and public support to engage in such behavior. In fact, rather than triggering a federal backlash, it is far more likely that the passage of these two measures will be the impetus for the eventual dismantling of federal pot prohibition.

    Like alcohol prohibition before it, the criminalization of cannabis is a failed federal policy that delegates the burden of enforcement to the state and local police. How did America’s ‘Nobel Experiment’ with alcohol prohibition come to an end? Simple. When a sufficient number of states – led by New York in 1923 – enacted legislation repealing the state’s alcohol prohibition laws. With state police and prosecutors no longer complying with the government’s wishes to enforce an unpopular law, federal politicians eventually had no choice but to abandon the policy altogether.

    … On Election Day, voters in Colorado and Washington turned their backs on cannabis prohibition. They are the first to do so. But they will not be the last. Inevitably, when voters in the other 48 states see that the sky has not fallen, they too will demand their lawmakers follow suit. As more states lead the way, federal politicians will eventually have no choice but to follow.

    You can read the entire op/ed here. You can also post your feedback and comments to The Hill by going here. Congress is listening; tell them what’s on your mind.

    39 Responses to “The Hill.com: “Voters Say ‘No’ To Pot Prohibition””

    1. Anonymous says:

      Its about time says all the hippies! And I concur

    2. Winter garbage says:

      How cool….only 40 years after i first smoked a nickel bag and found my pleasure of choice. Where was all this peace and love back then? Long strange trip indeed.

    3. Joel: the other Joel says:

      In the future, cannabis prohibition will become just a horror story on America’s historic medieval policies on society and how it had almost evolved into a total destruction of humanity and liberty by the draconically minded and hateful ambitious politicians with the support of organized frantic psycho nannies.

    4. Shawn Kearney says:

      This whole thing doesn’t need to be a fight. Modifying the CSA in a fashion that protects states’ right to regulate marijuana and medical cannabis would suffice until cannabis is rescheduled, current proposed legislation would essentially do this. Under the Respect States’ and Citizens’ Rights Act, if every state choses to regulate marijuana, it would essentially no longer be a scheduled.

      Support and awareness for this bill ought to be our primary focus at the federal level, while continuing to promote reform locally.

    5. Shawn Kearney says:

      This whole thing doesn’t need to be a fight. Modifying the CSA in a fashion that protects states’ right to regulate marijuana and medical cannabis would suffice until cannabis is rescheduled, current proposed legislation would essentially do this. Under the Respect States’ and Citizens’ Rights Act, if every state choses to regulate marijuana, it would essentially no longer be a scheduled.

      Support and awareness for this bill ought to be our primary focus at the federal level, while continuing to promote reform locally.

    6. claygooding says:

      I added my comment,,,several of them.

    7. Alright Mr. President time to talk the walk
      Get up there and make an historical speech
      as to the “science” of the goodness of Cannabis
      You as anyone knows this in you’re heart and soul.

    8. my2cents says:

      Im betting that within four years from now it will be legal in as many states as medical mj is now.here in bama we still have a long row to hoe. mostly with the over 60 voters most under 60 have either smoked it or they have friends or family that do so they know its pretty much harmless IMHO the best cannabis in the world cant impair a person as much as a six pack of beer ,and also with alchohol the more you drink the more intoxicated you become, cannabis is self limiting in that if you smoke more than a joint or two at at time your just wasting it not getting higher also if you smoke too frequintly you dont get very high at all, so less is more somtimes.

    9. TheOracle says:

      I noticed on Cannabis Culture that Mr. Peña-Nieto, the incoming president of Mexico, wants to hold hemispheric talks on cannabis prohibition. You should invite the rest of the world to these talks for other countries that want to legalize and are held back by international treaty. True, regardless of whether the U.S. federal government approves of legalization in the states, why should Mexicans continue to die to enforce cannabis prohibition when cannabis is legally available en el Norte? Why shouldn’t Mexico legalize cannabis to avoid the deaths because of cannabis smuggling and have the gringos come to Mexico? Then the U.S. can piss away even more money trying to intercept Americans bringing it back instead of Mexicans, and I’m not just suggesting only border crossings. If Mexico legalizes, what is to prevent Americans from taking over the smuggling where the Mexicans leave off? The exchange rate and the cartels still finding money in it?

      Thank you for acting so quickly to schedule some kind of international meeting to clear the obstacle of cannabis prohibition by international treaty.

      Countries without the exceptionalism clout of American exceptionalism will still have the yoke of international treaty prohibition even if the U.S. legalizes or just looks the other way and the international prohibition stays on paper. The U.S. can ignore what’s on the paper, but other countries are very susceptible to sanctions. Get Egypt in on the talks. The U.S. gives them the wheat products, grain, they need to feed their people. They can’t without it, so they need to get on board the cannabis legalization train, and lighten up on taking sides in the violence. Have Libya jump on board and get them some decent blond North African hash for their masses to calm them. Ditto to what I expanded on this topic before about it being traded in U.S. dollars and above ground follow the money opportunities and opportunities for better intelligence gathering, etc.

      Finally, Mexico and the U.S. can talk about “real” economic development instead of economic development consisting of money and arms the U.S. gives to Mexico to fight the drug war.

      Let’s get cannabis prohibition de-funded at the federal level: blame the sequestration or budget cutting.

      The Koch brothers and Romney’s ilk can not funnel enough money on their own into the stock market to implement mass production of innovations that create cleaner jobs/greener jobs. They need the other wealthy people.

      And …

      why should (other)wealthy people open up their wallets when the federal government still is of the mindset that they have money to waste on cannabis prohibition?

      NOTHING SAYS FAILURE MORE

      THAN

      TWO STATES LEGALIZING!

      Michele (Leonhart), hi! You’re going to implement the execution of your office’s policies to get the feds out of the states’ business, and some of how the U.S. cooperates with other organizations, domestic and foreign, on cannabis regulation. Put your thinking cap on. It’s that or transfers or furloughs, so retool/reinvent yourselves. Better have a staff meeting or something to get ideas.

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