Anti-Pot Prejudice vs. Federalism -
Growing Republican support for letting states go their own way on medical marijuana
Last week, by a vote of 219 to 189, the House of Representatives approved an amendment aimed at stopping federal interference with state laws that "authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana." If it is included in the appropriations bill passed by the Senate and signed by the president, the amendment would prohibit the Justice Department, which includes the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), from spending taxpayers' money on dispensary raids or other attempts to stop medical use of marijuana in the 22 states that allow it.
Similar measures have failed in the House six times since 2003. This year the amendment attracted record support from Republicans, 49 of whom voted yes, compared to 28 last time around. "This measure passed because it received more support from Republicans than ever before," says Dan Riffle of the Marijuana Policy Project. "It is refreshing to see conservatives in Congress sticking to their conservative principles when it comes to marijuana policy. Republicans increasingly recognize that marijuana prohibition is a failed Big Government program that infringes on states' rights."
While Obama seems like a feckless and halfhearted supporter of marijuana federalism, most Republicans seem utterly unprincipled on this issue. Here is an opportunity to defend something they supposedly believe in—state autonomy under the Constitution—while simultaneously criticizing a Democratic administration and siding with a majority of Americans. In a recent Politico essay, Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, and Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, argue that opposing federal interference with medical marijuana is politically smart:
A recent Pew Research Center survey found that nearly three in four Americans—including 78 percent of Independents, 71 percent of Democrats and 67 percent of Republicans—believe that efforts to enforce marijuana laws cost more than they are worth. Similar numbers—80 percent of Democrats, 76 percent of Independents, and 61 percent of Republicans—favor making medical marijuana legally available.
During the floor debate on the amendment, opponents questioned the medical benefits of marijuana and argued that allowing patients to use it is a prelude to broader legalization. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) cited opposition from professional medical organizations, while Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) argued that "it's the camel's nose under the tent." Yet neither of these arguments has anything to do with whether the federal government has the authority to stop states from allowing medical use of cannabis if that is what their legislators or voters decide to do. For a true federalist, this is the crucial question. Whether or not Wolf and Harris think medical marijuana laws are a good idea, our system of government does not allow them to impose that judgment on the states.
Norquist and Nadelmann likewise argued that it "ought to be an easy 'yes' vote for members of the 10th Amendment Task Force on Capitol Hill and other believers in limited government and federalism." The task force, founded in 2010, is a project of the Republican Study Committee (RSC), where conservative legislators are supposed to develop policies consistent with their principles. How many members of the RSC task force devoted to the 10th Amendment voted for federalism last week? According to a tally by the Drug Policy Alliance, 10 out of 47. That's 21 percent, up from 11 percent in 2012. It looks like Republicans may be gradually recovering from a cannabis-induced fog that made them forget the Constitution.
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Annapolis Police Chief Michael Pristoop exemplifies law enforcement self-interest trumping truth
There’s a distinct buzz out there about this event: Annapolis police chief apologizes for citing hoax story in testimony against marijuana legalization
Testifying against bills proposed in Maryland to legalize and decriminalize marijuana, Annapolis Police Chief Michael Pristoop cited a hoax story that claimed 37 people died the first day marijuana was legalized in Colorado.
“The first day of legalization, that’s when Colorado experienced 37 deaths that day from overdose on marijuana,” Pristoop said in testimony at Tuesday’s Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee hearing. “I remember the first day it was decriminalized there were 37 deaths.”
I remember when that satire piece came out as well. We joked about the gullible idiots on Twitter who actually thought that was somehow true.
Pristoop was immediately corrected by Senator Jamie Raskin, who was not a gullible idiot on Twitter.
Now, of course, people are trying to backtrack…
“After conducting additional research, it appears that was not accurate at all,” Pristoop said. “I believed at the time that was accurate. But I don’t think it takes away from the other facts we presented… I’m guilty of being a human being. I tried really hard to present verified facts.” [...]
Annapolis Mayor Mike Pantelides said he remains confident in Pristoop, whom he believed errored in his testimony. [...]
Pristoop’s focus on heroin enforcement may have influenced his comments in front of the Maryland General Assembly, Pantelides said.
“Clearly when you’re constantly dealing with a drug where people overdose, it’s probably in your head to think overdoses, drugs,” he said. “Again, it could have just been a slip of he said something he shouldn’t have.”[...]
Alderman Fred Paone, a member of the Annapolis City Council’s Public Safety committee, said he had not read the hoax article or Pristoop’s comments, but believed the police chief’s remarks were likely “a good faith mistake.”
“The guy is doing his job and frankly you get kind of intense when you’re in the middle of something,” Paone, R-Ward 2, said.
Let’s be clear, here. This is not a good faith mistake. This is not a slip of the tongue.
This is the chief law enforcement officer of a major city claiming to be enough of an expert on a topic to actually testify in front of the Senate, with a goal of using his “facts” to justify continuing arresting people, and in the course of that testimony, actually and earnestly claims something so ridiculously false that any high school student would know it was parody.
Remember: Police Chief Michael Pristoop didn’t accidentally tweet it like those idiots we ridiculed. He used it in testimony in the State Senate.
This truly exemplifies the way that law enforcement has worked to corrupt the legislative process when it comes to marijuana. They’re not interested in facts, only ammunition. The truth about medical marijuana’s value, or the truth about the impact on marijuana’s use on society doesn’t matter to them a single bit, and so they don’t even care to learn it. All they care about is protecting their ability to use these unjust laws and their revenue stream that comes from marijuana enforcement.
And so they show up to testify at every legislative hearing (and what politician wants to go against law enforcement in uniform?) as they regurgitate canned talking points usually crafted by prohibitionists further up the food chain.
Police Chief Michael Pristoop got caught. And this should be brought up every time law enforcement officials show up to testify about why marijuana must remain illegal.
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Another Drug War Death: Police Shoot, Kill 80-Year-Old Man In His Own Bed, Don't Find the Drugs They Were Looking For
Deputies approached the house, and what happened next is where things get murky. The deputies said they announced their presence upon entering and were met in the hallway by the 80-year-old man, wielding a gun and stumbling towards them. The deputies later changed the story when the massive bloodstains on Mallory's mattress indicated to investigators that he'd most likely been in bed at the time of the shooting. Investigators also found that an audio recording of the incident revealed a discrepancy in the deputies' original narrative:
"Before listening to the audio recording, [Sgt. John] Bones believed that he told Mallory to "Drop the gun" prior to the shooting. The recording revealed, however, that his commands to "Drop the gun" occurred immediately after the shooting."
Whatever really happened - when it was all over, Eugene Mallory was dead of six gunshot wounds from Sgt. John Bones' MP-5 9mm submachine gun. When a coroner arrived, he found the loaded .22 caliber pistol the two deputies claimed Mallory had pointed at them on the bedside table.
Mallory had not fired a single shot. The raid turned up no evidence of methamphetamine on the property.
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