Brock Lorber

More About: Drug War

Marijuana Reformers are Cracking Me Up

I am a radical.  I make no apologies for it.  I support and applaud the efforts of reformers of all stripes, but quite frankly, I would not be a happy camper if the reformers actually got what they want.

I don't want a better, more efficient, master even if you could craft one out of the world as you find it today.

So, I'm not a fan of the “tax and regulate me” approach to marijuana reform.  Taxes are theft and regulations denote the existence of a master, both of which make me a wage slave.  As a non-user of marijuana, as far as I am concerned, “tax and regulate” would merely replace the harm of the Drug War with other, unavoidable, harms.

Any self-respecting reformer, then, would ask, “what would you do?”  My answer is to simply stop; stop raiding, stop enforcing, stop prosecutions, stop pleadings, stop giving your legitimacy to the societal cancer called government.

But, as everyone knows, that's just not going to happen, right?

The Marijuana Reformer Approach
Botched and wrong-house raids are happening with frightening regularity; you can read about one or more on Radley Balko's The Agitator almost every day.  What really frightens me, however, is that the scenes these stories describe are of a typical American, nighttime household, one exactly like mine.  There's a dog, a weapon for home defense or hunting pressed into defense service, a sleeping family, and a bunch of drugs manufactured by companies with the names Folgers, Jack Daniels, Anheuser-Busch, and Tylenol.

Stopping these raids is my number one goal in life.

So, I'm supportive of reform efforts even if I'm not supportive of the reformers' end vision.  Where I would delete or nullify laws, the reformers seek to make new laws for medical marijuana, partial decrim, full decrim, and, of course, “tax and regulate”.  By donning suits, making reasoned yet passionate arguments, and, in general, playing the political game, reformers have actually been astoundingly effective.

12 states have passed medical marijuana initiatives, the taboo is slightly decreased for discussing marijuana in the US Capital Building, and decrim initiatives and legislation at state and local levels is proceeding surely, if slowly.  Unsurprisingly, these laws have been summarily ignored by legislators, courts, police departments, sheriffs, and federal law enforcement.

But, I'm being told, there's a new sheriff in town, one that has promised change.  Candidate Obama promised the raids on medical marijuana dispensaries would stop (that's not my house, but a good first step).  When the first raid occurred, after he became President Obama, on January 22, it was due to Bush holdovers at the DEA and Justice.  Now that four more raids have occurred with Eric Holder running Justice, it's just due to Bush holdovers at the DEA.

This has reformers screaming “stop it!” even while giving President Obama the Bush holdover pass.  “Call.  Write.  Call and write.  Email,” they suggest, anything to put grassroots pressure on President Obama to stop the raids, stop the enforcement, stop the prosecutions, and stop the pleadings.  In short, ignore the laws on the federal books.

But, didn't we already agree that that was too radical and therefore not going to happen?

Doing it Wrong
As amusing as the reformer cum radical transition is, I have to point out that the reformers are now working against themselves.  Americans for Safe Access is advocating untaxed, unregulated access.  The Marijuana Policy Project and Students for a Sensible Drug Policy are both calling for President Obama's government to have no policy (at least with regards to medical marijuana).  Last, but certainly not least, the National Organization for the Repeal of Marijuana Laws is encouraging ignorance, not repeal, of marijuana laws.

It's quite the conundrum.  If reformers continue to call for the radical approach, they validate the approach of the radicals.  If, however, they discontinue this course of action, they betray their long-held position, that something is better than nothing, to the radicals' all-or-nothing position.

This is, in stark relief, the discontinuity that radicals always warn reformers about and reformers always dismiss out of hand.

If reformers were serious about reform, they would be pushing the new administration toward substantive change at the ONDCP and emergency legislative action on Capital Hill, while goading the DEA to make bigger, more frequent raids.  The violence of the DEA raids would motivate grassroots support of the reforms in ways that glaucoma just can not.  This is chess, not checkers.

Same as it Always Was
Meanwhile, back on earth, here is what will happen.  The reformers will not be serious, the Obama administration will somehow issue paper orders to slack off on dispensary raids while navigating the shark-infested waters of “obstruction of justice”, and the DEA will continue the raids apace, yet with actual charges filed in federal court rather than mere seizure of assets.

For my part, I will continue to go to sleep every night, wondering if this is the night a SWAT team violates the sanctity of my home and executes my dog.  I guess that's not so funny after all.

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