TheFix.com: “The Drug Warriors Cashing In on Pot Prohibition”

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director March 22, 2013

    “Former public servants, from DEA chiefs to cops, are using their clout to lobby for drug policies that enrich themselves.”

    That’s the sub-headline on today’s exceptional feature story on TheFix.com highlighting the revolving door of moneyed interests in perpetuating the war on cannabis.

    Author Kevin Gray, whose work has appeared in numerous outlets including The Washington Post, articulately summarizes the role of former drug czars, cops, federal bureaucrats, and others who lobby the keep the drug war machine moving forward — and, as a result, line their own pockets.

    “The time-honored revolving door between government and business swings fast and often. It can be straightforward, like the appointment of banking behemoth Goldman Sachs’ alumni as economic policymakers by recent presidential administrations. But when it comes to the drug war, the family tree is more like a thicket of interests among law enforcement, federal and state prisons, pharmaceutical giants, drug testers and drug treatment programs—all with an economic stake in keeping pot illegal.”

    The whole story is really a must read. Here is the link to the full text.

    67 Responses to “TheFix.com: “The Drug Warriors Cashing In on Pot Prohibition””

    1. tom says:

      @BobCat: you make good points on the religions…all that you mentioned, save the Jewish faith, are the making of mankind. Christianity is not a religion, it is a relationship. See II Cor 5:18 “And all things [are] of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;” and let the spirit lead you from there. Just like he said in Gen 1:11-12: if God saw that the herb yielding seed was good, who dares say otherwise? Hopefully soon we can overcome the preponderance of lies and simply let the plant grow freely, and use it the same. May peace and grace be with us all.

    2. BobKat says:

      @ Evening Bud

      Who says on “message boards” individuals can’t have meaningful discussions?

      For the record, although I was raised “devout Protestant”, I gave that up many years ago. But the lessons learned are still there. I consider myself a spiritualist now, not an atheist. I am saddened by conflict between organized religious groups, such as those who resist being a part of solutions together. I believe organized religion needs to grow up a lot and Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists need to learn to be more tolerate of each other and cooperate with each other. I believe those who feel spiritual outside of organized religions deserve to be accepted. I believe the federal government wears it’s religion like a pin, without significant reverence, and that’s troubling to me.

      I forgot to mention that pharmaceuticals/medicine in my state is not taxed. Yet if cannabis were legalized as medicine it would be taxed, as it is in CA and other states with medical cannabis laws. This treats medicine as a commodity, which it’s not, and to me that’s wrong. Even taxing cannabis for “recreational use”, in quotes as it’s simply a plant, seems wrong, but I’d accept that for the betterment of society, but other simple (as in unadulterated plants) aren’t taxed so unless cannabis is sold as brownies, ice-cream, gourmet foods I really don’t see why it should be taxed or even regulated. I can’t think of any other natural plant that is taxed. So it’d be a “sin-tax”, but again, In God We Trust, so how can a plant that is unprocessed be a sin?

      As to my opinions, educated ones, sure, I have obvious opinions sometimes. When my opinions are based on facts or legal precedents I try to make that clear. Not being an attorney, I don’t always use the best phrases however.

      Detecting more opinion than I previously may have used is interesting to me. I appreciate I’ve spoiled you, but don’t know how that is so. I’m simply sincere and dedicated to stopping the hurt the War on Drugs has created. It is so blatantly obvious to me that the War on Drugs is not only perhaps the worse failure the USA has ever pursued, but also the most harmful war upon it’s citizens never recognized as such. Politicians have been so blindsided by the war that they fail to have seen how whole generations have been seriously injured – either by preventing cannabis minded couples from ever finding each other (where alcohol minded couples could) to prohibiting cannabis inspired art, literature, peace initiatives, medical research, therapies; as well as wrongful imprisonment, loss of life, loss of jobs and promising careers and an overall suffocation of anyone into cannabis while encouraging alcohol art, and proliferation. Every time I watch a movie or TV show where tow or more people enjoy alcohol I cringe. That is not reality. That is not my opinion. That is segregation and favoritism – perhaps not the correct terms, but an example of what’s wrong in the society I grew up in and will die in.

      I have known a lot of violence within the alcohol community and actually none within the cannabis community. Except when it comes to being busted!!!

      One last thing… although NORML is the National Organization for Marijuana Reform, it’s name is derived from the fact that government insists on calling cannabis marijuana, which a racial prejudice. Cannabis is cannabis, or if you prefer, we called it ganja prior to the 1930’s.

      Time to end the War, and Stop the Hurt.

    3. Evening Bud says:

      @ BobKat–

      Thanks, you did clarify yourself adroitly (as you usually do). And no, BobKat, we actually agree on most fronts, I’m positive. I do have a tendency to get a bit stubborn–read contentious–on the issue of religion, but try to show respect. My wife is devout, a Catholic, and she and I occasionally cross swords on the subject, particularly organized religion, but always with healthy respect on both our parts, I’m happy to say.

      Concerning your points about taxation, and the interaction between the Fed and states, I found the information very enlightening, as I’d hoped–and anticipated. Your knowledge of those subjects shows, and is quite helpful to those like me who are striving to sort out the often complex information.

      Didn’t mean to seem contentious in my last post. Oftentimes, on message boards such as this, people give their opinions far more so than they do facts; and I’m certainly as guilty as anyone on that score. I thought I had detected opinion in your last post more so than I usually do in your posts, and so was, indeed, trying for clarifications. (You’ve spoiled me, BobKat, I’m used to getting the straight dope from you, lol!) But, I’m happy to say that you clarified your points with flying colors–as expected.

      Take care, pal, E. Bud

    4. BobKat says:

      @ Evening Bud

      Well are you a devil or an advocate? LOL

      Consider everything I say my “Educated opinion”, and I say that as (disclaimer)I am not in any way, shape or form a legal eagle.

      I am not an attorney, nor in law enforcement or gov’t. I have a BA in English and have studied cannabis and prohibition of said plant since around 1975 – I say studied cannabis as I had jobs at schools and colleges that gave me access to material previously only available at libraries, when there wasn’t an internet advantage.

      #1: I was raised “devout” Protestant… I am not a Bible trumpeter. To me “natural plant is obvious, but it’s also true that being a Christian nation (or at least in theory) it’s also true God gave all the plants of the world to humankind, and long before Jesus sacrificed himself, Adam and Eve were cursed (Eve especially) but, God forgave them while he/she were exiled from the Garden of Eden because now they had knowledge, something God apparently didn’t wish them to have. Frankly, the story speaks only to me that the “truth will set you free”, and freedom in a sense and knowledge is a curse of sorts. Conclusion – for a Country that prints “In God We Trust” on all it’s currency, ignoring the lesson of the Book of Genesis is unacceptable. A gov’t can’t Trust in God and not trust in God both at the same time. It’s one or the other.

      RE: Taxation… the feds tax gasoline, income, and who knows what else. The states tax their specialties. In my state, sugar, salt, spices, meats, bread, rice, etc. are not taxed. But if you make a sandwich with those ingredients, they tax the sandwich. They tax alcohol and tobacco, partly as a sin tax, but also as they are processed, manufactured. Tax law is obviously complicated, and I really don’t know what laws govern what the feds and states must do to tax one something while not taxing another something. The “Marijuana Tax Act” was a reach by the federal gov’t back in 1937 because there was only one precedent to allowing such taxation, and that was to prohibit possession of machine guns by the average citizen. Prior to passage of prohibitive tax on machine guns there was no president to taxation of a plant like cannabis. And in fact, in the 1960’s (I don’t have the case ingrained in my mind) the MJ Tax act was found to be Unconstitutional as it required that you present your cannabis product to a federal tax agent to pay the tax, but since you hadn’t paid the tax you possessed it illegally. That was a Catch-22!!!.

      RE: State’s Rights and states being subservient to the Federal gov’t… that is the battle our Founding Fathers fought, establishing the US Constitution and our Bill of Rights. Federalists believe the states have the right to govern themselves, and some other such term says the federal gov’t has the right to control the states. The fact is a balance of sorts was achieved, and as such, although gambling and prostitution is illegal under federal law, in principal, there are states that have laws legalizing those things. Now CO and WA have laws legalizing cannabis, and no, NV and NJ don’t have to submit anything to the federal gov’t, as far as I understand it so they can have legalized gambling and prostitution.

      The case with cannabis is, on a federal level an issue of interstate commerce and banking regulations. Like a states refusal to enforce federal seat-belt laws or highway speed limits, the federal gov’t can without money as punishment to a state, but a state can pretty much do anything it chooses if it’s willing to suffer the wrath of federal authorities.

      RE: Stronger strains… happy we agree on one front… like duh… the more cannabis I smoke the more dangerous I get, ahh, not quite… maybe for real the more I want to take a nap, lol. That is a real public safety issue, eh, hombre? – home alone, stoned and wanting to sleep. Or not wanting to drive. Quite different than getting drunk and wanting to scream down the road at 90 miles per hour to vent.

      Hope I clarified my myself.

    5. Evening Bud says:

      @ BobKat,

      Thanks for the enlightenment on the commerce clause. It’s somewhat as I suspected, given your explanation, that it’s a tool used by the feds . . .

      As regards the taxing of natural plants, what I consider gifts of nature, you consider gifts of God, but for our purposes, that’s semantics–differing opinions. Concerning the issue of taxing altered plants like tobacco, compared to “non-altered” plants, like MJ, again I’m wondering if this is your opinion. I personally don’t believe one is necessarily right and the other wrong, don’t see a real difference; when you make that case that there is, are you giving your opinion? Or are you citing actual laws?

      Govt’s throughout history have taxed natural resources, pure or not, including plants, salt, water and even land. How does MJ differ?

      Also, when you write that CO and WA don’t have to “submit anything” to the Feds, again I ask, is that your opinion, or a fact? You mention that those states aren’t breaking any state laws, which of course, is true, but they are running counter to Fed law in regards to legalized MJ. You seem to be saying that it’s solely an interstate transport issue . . . enlighten me, brother. I would actually like to know.

      I’m not saying I agree with the Feds on these issues, or that you’re wrong, just playing the devil’s advocate here. I guess I’m wondering if some of these issues are more your opinion or are in fact based on legislation. They may be issues that come up.

      Take care, E. Bud.

      PS–I wholeheartedly agree on the issue of stronger strains, and such. I stopped messing with swag years ago, for those very reasons.

    6. BobKat says:

      @ Evening Bud…

      The federal commerce act or clause is sound in principal and necessary for a safe country, however, it’s easily corrupted by politicians with bigger or smaller fish on their minds, especially fish in a particular state that may not like what the federal gov’t wants. It’s not a catch-22 at all… a catch-22 is a situation of two opposing forces of which there is no possibility of mediation or compromise. In this case the federal gov’t uses the commerce clause as a weapon or tool to bully a state into getting what it wants.

      Yes, I’m also concerned about Holder/Obama… it would have been considerate and polite to make an immediate statement about CO and WA. The federal gov’t has spent over a trillion $$$ on cannabis eradication and prohibition in the past 43 years… the fact that two states legalize it? And they do nothing? Imagine a psychotic kid who’s suddenly been threatened to have his favorite toy taken away… how do you think that kid feels – well he doesn’t feel, he’s psychotic. At first he doesn’t say a thing. He pretends he doesn’t care. Then in the dark of night… well you get the idea.

      CO and WA don’t have to submit anything to the Federal gov’t. The state is not breaking any state laws and states have a right to sovereign governance. Yes, if legalizing cannabis violated any federal laws they would be wise to work with the feds, but as long as they don’t conduct interstate commerce they are antonymous. In this case however, the feds were clever in that since the 1920’s-30’s they gained a monopoly on banking regulations. It’s an interesting history as prior to that states and even businesses controlled their own banking… but due to a few very large corporations secret meeting were held on Jekyll Island in with the federal reserve was hatch to protect large corporations. Look it up.

      The feds can no more dismiss the laws of one or two states than they can many. True, if only one or the other had passed legalization laws, they might, like they did CA, bully them. But two states… ? Plus CA, plus 18 with medical cannabis laws… the feds are facing the ultimate… “you all took my favorite toy away from me”.

      What will they do? I pray they do the right thing and get out of the cannabis control as it’s obvious most tax-payers, over 50% of us don’t like their involvement.

      Alcohol was decriminalized when the federal gov’t was broke in the 1930’s… so if they want to tax cannabis fine by me. But it’s not a manufactured product as alcohol and tobacco are (yes, tobacco is highly subject to manufacturing and adulteration processes, where few would stand for adulterated cannabis which is why the tobacco industry is venomously opposed to legalization, although they claim they aren’t. American’s don’t want manufactured cannabis, they want the plant God produces.

      Even God is on trial here… God is the only manufacturer of pure cannabis. Even the idea that the cannabis of today is not the cannabis of the 70’s is flawed, as no genetic manipulations of cannabis are responsible if in fact it is more potent now. If so, it is because of natural marriages of different strains and breeding practices. Unlike alcohol, what thy blatantly ignore and disregard is that more potent cannabis only means one needs less to achieve the high, whereas with alcohol, more alcohol is always required.

      A fallacy pushed by the feds and NIH is that the stronger the cannabis the more dangerous it is. That is true when comparing beer to whiskey, but quite untrue when comparing the cannabis of the 70’s to the cannabis of today.

      Yet ignorant people believe it because most of the time “stronger” is more of a threat… but with cannabis, it only means if you smoke it or eat it you need less. More does nothing… and if the concern is mental illness the cannabis of yesteryear is no more less harmful than the cannabis today, but fortunately, or tragically, alcohol still will cause more mental illness than the most potent cannabis. That’s science. That’s what Obama/Holder/ the NIH don’t want to admit because corporations that currently exist have a lot of power when it comes to political decisions and law.

      Cannabis is technically simply a herb, and nontaxable. But WE are saying if collecting taxes on cannabis will allow you to accept it as a part of a persons right to be free than by all means tax it – simply stop making criminals out of US! Stop The Hurt!

    7. Evening Bud says:

      @ BobKat,

      Many interesting points here. That commerce clause, I have to admit, still confuses the heck outta me. Seems almost like a catch-22 sort of thing, where the govt can impose sanctions almost arbitrarily. Am I completely wrong on that?

      As regards Obama and Holder, et al, I am still a bit worried. I’m definitely glad Obama didn’t come out directly against Colo and Wash on their legalization votes; but he does seem to be playing coy. (Perhaps he is focused for the time being on other issues.) Or, like you intimated, waiting/hoping perhaps for the illegality of it to play out–citing the Schedule One conflict and so forth–so they don’t have to take direct action themselves.

      It’ll be interesting to see how the Feds/Obama react once Colo and Wash send in their recommendations or procedures to the Feds, and actually begin to implement their new laws. Also, it’ll be interesting to see how they react if (read, when) other states begin legalizing. They can resist the wishes of two states much easier than they can a dozen.

      PS–I have mixed feelings on the issue of taxing a natural plant. While I definitely understand your point about it being a product of nature/God, I also know that that’s never stopped most govts from taxing many other natural or God-given plants or resources–tobacco, corn, even water . . .

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