Why am I sneaking my impressions of Colorado Amendment 64 into a film review of Lincoln instead of just headlining them “Legalization or Grovelization?”
Perhaps some of you recall the scene in The Blues Brothers when the band, barricaded for unknown reasons from the audience by a chain-link fence, launches into a blues song in a country bar, then the beer bottles rain down on them, splashing, smashing, and splattering all over the now-demystified chain-link fence?
Cannabis Commerce has been playing the wrong song for the wrong crowd for some time now. It’s also a blues tune: “The State-by State Blues.” A lot of people don’t like hearing it in their let’s-only-legalize-it-in-some-parts-of-the-country bar.
Lincoln’s the chain-link fence protecting Cannabis Commerce’s band of contrarians from the slings and arrows of state-by-state legalization “activists” in a dream world that they just legalized pot. The pro-slavery Confederate states were on a similar high when they seceded from the Union. That didn’t work out all that well for them.
It’s nice to have General Spielberg and the Dreamworks cavalry riding alongside as we charge, bayonets fixed, into the “regulate marijuana like alcohol and tobacco” fray.
The release of Lincoln was timed for Thanksgiving; perhaps the Academy Award winning director felt it was a good time to appreciate the fact that President Lincoln stood tall against states’ rights when someone had to do it.
You may or may not feel thankful for the reality check Cannabis Commerce is about to serve up.
It’s more likely that those of you living in states that may never pass “regulate like alcohol and tobacco” amendments are wondering why I’m not swept away like activist groups and traditional media celebrating as if “victories” like Colorado Amendment 64 and Washington Initiative 502 are the second coming of VE Day and VJ Day.
After all, as a Colorado resident, aren’t I one of the fortunate few who’ll [theoretically] be able to fire up legal buds without having to enter the land of make believe and perform the role of “patient?”
You must be new to Cannabis Commerce, or you wouldn’t be wondering.
We’ll go on the bender of the century when Legalization Day really arrives — that’s the day federal prohibition is repealed, not the day quasi-legal recreational pot passes in two sparsely populated states.
There’s someone else who’s probably already seen Lincoln who isn’t of the opinion that federal prohibition has been or is about to be toppled either. His name is John F. Walsh III, and he just happens to be the US Attorney for Colorado … a fortuitous appointment Cannabis Commerce feels Rocky Mountain stoners should be thanking their lucky stars for this Thanksgiving. Denver would never have become the medical marijuana capital of Planet Earth had Mr. Walsh been on the warpath against it.
His perfunctory yet ominous statement:
The Department of Justice’s enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged. In enacting the Controlled Substances Act, Congress determined that marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance. We are reviewing the ballot initiative and have no additional comment at this time. —US Attorney for Colorado John F. Walsh III.
Here’s a high-ranking official who never found coexisting with medical marijuana in his district all that troublesome.
Now he’s backed into a corner. If he didn’t feel like fighting before, well … he’s got a few resources at his disposal.
A can or worms has been opened — and the creatures are crawling out.
Antagonizing non-marijuana averse [I don’t want to call Mr. Walsh “marijuana-friendly,” lest the DOJ pressures him to show he’s not] US Attorneys is just one reason it’s been our long-established position that trying to effect legalization state-by-state “is in a league of one as the single dumbest mistake that’s ever been made in the long and storied history of American activism.”
While we’ve been more vocal about our opposition to patients’ rights than state-by-state legalization, we haven’t exactly neglected the latter.
Please pass the rants
Here’s a holiday sampling of our favorite rants cannalyzing the downside of legalization state-by-state:
Book Review: Too High to Fail [states’ rights issues discussed about two-thirds of the way through]
As even a cursory examination of the preceding evidence will show, we’ve poured considerable time and effort into exploring, exposing, and expounding upon this very subject. Unfortunately, to date our well-drawn arguments have gone for naught. The reality is that most people are content to toe the party line: exponential progress is still progress.
We’re not most people. Although we’re not superior to most people, nor are we smarter than most people, we have churned out a lot more cannanalysis than most people.
The truth is I’d much rather be cannalyzing something else on Turkey Day than state-by-state activism.
In particular, I would love to be uncovering how many cannajobs are possible and how much cannatax is plausible in a fully legal, regulated landscape. And I would be gladly dedicating myself to that work right now, were it not for these two stumbling blocks:
- Partial legality is orders of magnitude less inspiring to write about than full legality. I don’t want to write about crumbs, I want to write about the whole cake. So, instead of just covering the crumbs that are out there, I advocate for the repeal of prohibition — the cause which the same forces that pushed through A–64 and I–502 have successfully brainwashed everyone is a cause too far. The brainwashing goes like this: Federal prohibition is insurmountable. Why bother trying to topple it, you’ll just be frustrated. Repealing it is mission impossible. Don’t even think about it. Take whatever crumbs you can get and act like you won. That’s powerful programming. To counteract it, I take to the pulpit.
- So many people have been asking me to weigh-in on the regulate-like-alcohol-and-tobacco referendums that I’m left with little choice but to address them … or I’ll never be able to move on to subjects I’m passionate about. I’ve had nothing previously to say about these referendums because a) I had hoped I had already staked out my position on state-by-state legalization clearly enough; and b) I know the difference between fool’s gold and real gold. And I knew Amendment 64 was fool’s gold before it passed.
I was prepared to stay on the sidelines even longer. But when normally staid institutions like CNN run headlines unabashedly gushing, “Marijuana Legalized in Colorado and Washington,” that’s my cue to break radio silence.
CNN’s exuberance was out of character; “The War Channel” went on to call this past Election Day results “the biggest victory ever for the legalization movement.” Sorry to be blunt, but that’s not saying much.
Alas, as others have noted (stay tuned, plenty of original thought coming right up), there’s a big problem with what CNN and others have characterized as paradigm-shifting wins: federal prohibition has not been burned to the ground like Atlanta on “the night they drove ole Dixie down.” Nor did The Controlled Substances Act face a firing squad — as Mr. Walsh duly noted.
They didn’t even lay a glove on Prohibition much less knock it out. Not only is it unmarked and still standing, but it remains firmly entrenched in place. That means that the number of cannajobs and the cannatax revenue streams I’d prefer to be writing about remain a constricted trickle as opposed to the mighty river it wants to be … and the DEA can go about its business of seizing and eradicating all the cannabis it can get its hands on albeit with an even bigger operating budget and increased manpower because recreational-use legislation like Amendment 64 and Initiative 502 present a clearer and more present danger than medical marijuana.
Once again, Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske has to be singing in the shower: “Heaven, I’m in heaven, and I seem to find the drug busts that I seek.” He’s got to be in absolute disbelief. “A one-ounce limit is all they’re asking for? Seriously? And not word one about ending Prohibition and huge budgetary cuts and layoffs for us? There is a God! Heaven, I’m in heaven … ”
As you’ve come to expect, Cannabis Commerce has an entirely different reaction to A–64 and I–502 than CNN, the blogosphere, and the self-congratulatory attorneys who shepherded the pot bills through:
After the recent passage of statewide legislation which purportedly “regulates marijuana like alcohol and tobacco,” the status of stoners in Colorado and Washington is hereby officially upgraded from field niggers to house niggers.
Shocking, isn’t it? That’s what we’re here for. To shock the brainwashing right out of you, if it’s not already too late.
Let’s start with the fundamental issue.
Under Amendment 64, is pot really regulated like alcohol and tobacco?
- Can you grow a field of pot if you have the inclination like you can grow a field of tobacco or distill all the home brew you desire? No. You’re limited to growing six plants. Excuse me for thinking for myself instead of blindly accepting brainwashing, but wtf is six plants? Let me get this straight: say I have Fibromyalgia and I can grow fifty rose plants, which are pretty, but do nothing for me … but I’m limited to growing just six of a plant without which I can barely make it through the day? Huh? I thought we just “legalized marijuana?”
- Can you buy all the pot you want like you can buy all the booze you want? No, you’re limited to one ounce. Excuse me, but wtf is one ounce? Who buys an ounce of coffee? Sugar? Flour? An ounce of Jack Daniels is what comes in one of those tiny bottles you find in a minibar or what they serve on airplanes. You say being able to buy one ounce is “legalization” … I call it just more of the same grovelization that’s been dragging us down, down, down since 1937.
- Let’s say I’m having a weekend-long party for more than two people. Hey, sometimes it happens. Do I have to go back to the pot shop twenty times to supply the party? Yes. How many trips to liquor store would I need? Uh, that would be one. Regulated like alcohol and tobacco my foot!
- Can you mail your ounce of pot anywhere? No. Mailing pot will still be illegal. If you mail someone a present, and you’re caught, the whips will be cracking before you know it. Not so for alcohol or tobacco. You can mail as much of them as you want anywhere that you want — including across state lines. Once again pot rides at the back of the bus.
- Does Amendment 64 do anything to eliminate the gray areas between state and federal law? No. It does not, meaning federal reprisals could come at any time, from any direction, and with any force — including autocratic measures that you may not have considered your own government would unleash.
- Does Amendment 64 do anything to eliminate the hassle with interstate travel for people who have severe medical needs for marijuana? No. They’re just as SOL as they were before.
- Are there any provisions to free any marijuana prisoners under Amendment 64? No. They get to rot while those of us still on the street can party hearty over our “big win.”
- Did Amendment 64 eliminate the little-known but powerful “opt-out” clause in medical marijuana regulations — I’m talking about the fact that any city or county can vote “legal marijuana” out [and plenty have in Colorado, including college town Ft. Collins, population 150,000]? No. Any city or county can choose to not have medical or recreational marijuana. Are you starting to sense there’s something wrong with this picture? Good luck to any city or county which tried to eliminate alcohol or tobacco from within their borders! There’d be instant revolt. But we’re supposed to bend over and take it like we always have. Ironically, Washington Initiative 502 passed easily without opt-out clauses, making Colorado’s [voluntary, no less!] concession seem even more egregious.
- Will a pot business be permitted to operate within 1,000 feet of a school? No way. But alcohol and tobacco can be sold one foot from a school.
Now tell me that legislation to “regulate marijuana like alcohol and tobacco” has just passed.
Explain to mean how Colorado and Washington just “legalized marijuana.”
Anyone else call BS? Or am I stranded on an island of one?
Isn’t all controversial legislation compromised?
“Well, we had to build in compromises to make sure it passed.”
It’s true that all controversial legislation is compromised to a certain extent.
Thaddeus Stevens, magnificently portrayed by Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln, was a strict Abolitionist [as in one who wishes to abolish slavery] who controlled quite a few House of Representatives votes certain to sway the outcome of Constitutional Amendment 13 [which would free all slaves if it passed] one way or another.
Stevens fervently believed that slaves should not only be freed but be accorded full rights of citizenship — including the right to vote.
The voting part was too much for many Representatives to wrap their heads around. At the behest of President Lincoln, Stevens went before Congress, sucked it up, and reversed a position he’d held for thirty years. If he hadn’t, slaves might still be picking cotton in Mississippi. Because he did … well … unfortunately it took another century to get the voting part right. Politics is a messy business.
It’s true that even the mighty have to compromise — including President Obama, The Elected Leader of the Free World — and his now watered-down Healthcare bill.
- But including an opt-out clause is a compromise that didn’t need to be made — as the state of Washington Abe-ly demonstrated.
- A one-ounce limit is an epic compromise that didn’t need to be made. If your statewide consortium gets to write its own story, and you proudly proclaim to the whole world that if enough people vote “yes” marijuana will be regulated like alcohol and tobacco in your state, why would you put any limit on the purchase amount? There certainly isn’t any for the sin twins.
- A you-can-only-grow-six-plants limit is a compromise that didn’t need to be made. See above.
And so on.
Oh, I forgot the craziest compromise of all: abandoning the idea of nuking prohibition in favor of what MLK termed “taking the tranquilizing drug of gradualism” [going state-by-state] is by far the most egregious compromise made by backers of A–64 and everyone else wondering “which state is next?” instead of how and when we’re going to band together across state lines and accomplish what really needs to get done.
Is there anything “good” about A–64 and I–502?
Sure, just like the guillotine improves upon beheading with an axe.
Certain things are improved in certain states — the definition of inequality in a country that’s purportedly all about equality.
- Barring federal reprisals, it’s the death knell for the heinous patient model [in two states, bfd], meaning Coloradans and Washingtonians can stop speaking in Patientese and dispense with a system which rewards being sick or dying.
- It means farming can be sexy again, as it allows for industrial hemp grows — providing your rural county doesn’t decide to opt out just when you’re about to harvest that field you’ve been nurturing for six months that you invested six figures in.
- It means that you can keep your job as a fireman or a public school teacher because you only have to show a driver’s license to purchase and your name is kept out of stigmatic government databases like the Medical Marijuana Registry.
sinexcise tax of 15% is humane compared to what it could have been. That’s enough to rake incollect some decent cannatax without scaring anyone off.
Well, isn’t that convincing evidence that “the movement” is advancing in its tortoise-like plod toward an inevitable … tipping point?
Ah, the tipping point theory. Let’s take a closer look.
The “tipping point” theory
The tipping point theory goes something like this: if enough statewide initiatives are passed, pressure will be ratcheted up on the feds, they will voluntarily capitulate, and eventually full-on legalization will be achieved.
I’m aware that most of you place your faith in this theory. It isn’t completely far-fetched. It’s not 100% unreasonable. I can’t sit here and tell you with absolute conviction that the tipping point theory is all wrong.
The fact that is has no precedence whatsoever is what concerns me.
The major flaw of the tipping point theory is that it assumes the federal government of the United States is a progressive entity which has the best interest of its citizens — as opposed to the interests of its corporations like, oh, say Halliburton, petrochemical conglomerates and Monsanto — at heart.
Do you believe that? Not to change the subject, but you are aware that the US operates over 700 military bases on foreign soil and that the DEA operates in over 70 countries, right? Or perhaps you’re too caught up in the NFL, celebrity gossip, and reality TV to notice? You’re expecting an imperialistic colossus to interrupt its campaign of global conquest and its state of being permanently at war to legalize a peaceful and healing herb it’s fought tooth and nail to suppress for 80 years? Uh-huh.
I don’t know everything, but I sure wouldn’t bet the pot farm on that happening.
For now, as the drama plays out, we have to leave the tipping point theory to conjecture.
What we don’t have to leave to conjecture is the unassailable fact that some states are now more equal than others.
Equality vs. inequality
We don’t have to wonder about Lincoln’s position:
The union has at its very core the principle of equality for all. —Abraham Lincoln
And you must remember this:
Our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the principle that all men are created equal.
Why is it that:
- Abraham Lincoln, one of our greatest Presidents, believed in the principle of equality for all.
- Martin Luther King, whose immediate problems were in Alabama and Tennessee, still fought for and won civil rights for the entire nation.
- Gandhi, MLK’s biggest influence, went on hunger strikes to liberate all of India, not just the provinces of Kashmir and Goa.
Yet those who would have us legalize marijuana state-by-state are convinced inequality is the way to fly. Why is that?
I wish I had an answer. If you do, there’s a conveniently-placed Comments box just below this article. Straighten me out. What am I missing? I’m all ears.
I’ve also noticed a curious duality in the voting patterns of inequality backers.
Hypocrisy alert: you’re all for the doctrine of states’ rights when it serves your needs, but diametrically opposed to it when it doesn’t
Forgive me for profiling persons who voted “yes” on A–64, but let me know whether any of this rings true:
- You’re against states’ rights when it comes to abortion rights, as in Roe vs. Wade. Rick Perry, a Republican candidate for President you found detestable, thinks abortion should be a states’ right. You feel a woman gets to choose what to do with her own body in your state and every other state, right? Yet you feel it’s okay for you to purchase recreational marijuana in Colorado but not okay for someone to buy holy buds in North Dakota? Hello: if you cared so much about your sisters in North Dakota, you would have worked to repeal prohibition in fifty states instead of approving quasi-legalization in one state which just happens to be yours.
- You’re against states’ rights when it comes to integrating schools. You wouldn’t want to see segregated schools in Louisiana or Colorado … but as long as you can buy recreational buds in Colorado, you won’t lift a finger for people’s rights to buy the same in Louisiana? That’s their problem and they can take care of that themselves, right?
- You’d go out of your mind if a statewide election could take away womens’ right to vote, but you’re ecstatic that you “won” the right to buy one ounce of recreational buds in your state only. Hmm.
- You’re against states making their own “foreign policy” on immigration, but as long as you can buy recreational buds in Colorado, so what if people in Texas can’t?
- You agree that President Obama’s #1 issue, Healthcare, should help people out in all fifty states who presently can’t afford health insurance, and you didn’t vote for Romney who favored states being able to opt out of “Obamacare,” but you would rather be an activist for recreational pot in your own state than be an activist for it in all states? OK, then.
- You’re against the idea that people in a certain state can stockpile enough assault weapons and enough ammunition to blast Poland off the face of the earth, but it’s OK if people in West Virginia can [hypothetically] plant 100 acres of marijuana while you’re limited to six plants? Or are you only OK with states’ rights when your state has the advantage?
- You’re against the practice of polygamy — which in 1890 the US basically forced Utah to give up under the threat of invasion — not so much because you’re against a man having several wives as much as you’re against the fact that many of them seem to be child brides 11-13 years old with no say in the matter. But as long as you can buy all the cannabis strains you want in Colorado, it’s not your concern that no one can legally buy any strains in Utah whether they’re a polygamist or not.
I could belabor the point but it’s pretty obvious that states’ rights backers really put the high in hypocrisy.
Of course, hypocrisy was in full flight during Lincoln’s time, too. Here are his thoughts:
We were proclaiming ourselves political hypocrites before the world, by thus fostering Human Slavery and proclaiming ourselves, at the same time, the sole friends of Human Freedom [in the Constitution — which calls Native Americans, women, and slaves “Other People,” prohibiting them from having any say in government].
As we’ll see, the high and mighty federal government attracts its share of hypocrisy, too.
Is “Federalism” out of control?
It could be.
There are compelling arguments that the federal government is a nanny state, it’s become too big for its britches, it’s spending and spying are out of control, it’s far too secretive with entities like the Federal Reserve accountable to no one, and so on.
Conservatives, in particular, are in open revolt against Big Government. They have been for some time and are unlikely to back off anytime soon.
Of course, the same conservatives maneuvering for less government interference in their business affairs are generally the first to rejoice over our ever-expanding military industrial complex. That can’t ever be big enough. The same crowd has few objections to prying into private citizens’ lives if they deviate from the norm with acts of open rebellion — like slapping a Ron Paul bumper sticker on a granola-fueled Subaru.
The justification for federalism goes all the way back to The Declaration of Independence. Let’s turn again to Honest Abe, who may have slept with a copy of it under his pillow, for a legal interpretation:
The Union is older than any of the States, and, in fact, it created them as States. Originally some dependent colonies made the Union, and, in turn, the Union threw off their old dependence for them, and made them States, such as they are. Not one of them ever had a State constitution independent of the Union. Of course, it is not forgotten that all the new States framed their constitutions before they entered the Union nevertheless, dependent upon and preparatory to coming into the Union.
Since Lincoln’s time, when push comes to shove, federal supremacy has trumped states’ rights every time.
And the concept of equality Lincoln spoke about still rules the day.
Nobody can say the Obama administration practices inequality, because, like it or lump it, marijuana is outlawed equally in every state.
Out of control or not, the monolith that is the US government usually gets around to rectifying persecution eventually — even if it created the persecution itself with questionable judgement calls like “Other People” or enacting draconian measures like marijuana prohibition — once its hand is forced, usually by marches on Washington.
Politics always come into play
Sometimes Presidents are sympathetic toward a particular cause, but political considerations force them to tell the leaders of controversial causes, “I agree with you. Now go out and make me do it.”
- FDR said it to backers of programs that seemed “Socialist” when he was leading the country out of the Great Depression.
- JFK said it to MLK when he needed something to “sell” to Congress to pass civil rights legislation; that something turned into the “I have a dream” speech.
One of the scenes in Lincoln has the president agonizing over whether to pardon an 18-year-old deserter, knowing he would appear “weak” if he did. Of course he just goes ahead does it anyway. If President Lincoln had come into office and learned that a particularly useful fiber had just spent eighty years in the hole, there is every reason to believe he would issued a presidential pardon for that, too. In fact, we don’t have to wonder what he might have thought about the federal government keeping a commodity with all that economic pot-ential in a hammerlock; he spells out his position succinctly:
The principle of liberty to all — the principle that clears the path for all — gives hope to all — and, by consequence, enterprise and industry to all.
Ah, enterprise and industry: the sixteenth president is singing Cannabis Commerce’s song! Do state-by-state marijuana referendums provide enterprise and industry to all? No, they don’t. They provide marginal advances in disproportionate doses for some, not all.
Lincoln seems to be saying that if I’m allowed to make a great income selling recreational weed in Colorado, you should be able to do the same in Maine … without any further adieu like having to hold a separate election. He’s also telling us that freedom without economic freedom is nothing. That’s why the “I have a dream” speech was delivered at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. They go hand-in-hand. They always have. They always will.
With the present inequality between states in marijuana laws, and the humble cannabis plant still facing extreme prejudice in every state including Colorado and Washington — despite all the ballyhoo over A–64 and I–502 — by hook or crook those prejudicial practices must be discontinued and equality restored.
“Go out and make me do it” is the missing political piece.
The remedy is up to “we, the people.”
If the task feels too huge and too daunting, try this:
- Work toward repealing prohibition, the great equalizer.
- Stop celebrating the constricted rights you [may have] gained while so many other people are still out in the cold — or locked in warm prisons.
- Indicating your willingness to march on Washington to demand full herbal rights for every American.
- Pray for a marijuana messiah along the lines of Dr. Martin Luther King to deliver us from evil and wave the staff toward the promised land.
From Lincoln to Obama
The “equality” torch passed from the past to the present:
- Equality was first mentioned as a keystone of democracy in The Declaration of Independence
- Equality was further refined in The Constitution
- Equality was challenged by rogue states resulting in The Civil War
- Equality was reinforced by The Civil War and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address
- Equality was restated when federal marijuana prohibition went into effect in 1937
- Equality was challenged by rogue states seeking variations of marijuana legalization in 2009
- Equality was reinforced by Supreme Court decisions like 2011’s Raich vs. Gonzalez
- Obama maintains a policy of equal marijuana exclusion during his first term ending 2013
The federal government understands “equal.”
Therefore, it is blatantly obvious that the way to remove federal marijuana prohibition is in one equal chunk, not in fifty fragments.
Prohibition didn’t come in fifty pieces, it came in one piece.
Think of it like removing a near-fatal bullet.
If you were a doctor trying to save a wounded Union soldier at Gettsyburg before his wounds became fatal, would you want to grab the whole bullet or fish around for fifty shards?
Repealing prohibition takes courage. Courage is contagious.
God willing, prohibition will be permanently deleted sometime during the Obama administration.
Which brings us to the 44th president.
What Will Obama Do?
Let’s look at the hope/assumption/dream that tipping point theorists are counting on: since President Obama no longer has to play it safe worrying about his prospects of being reelected, his idealistic side is free to come out and play … and it will. That’s presumptive, but it’s not all that left-field. A scenario like that playing out is not entirely impossible.
However, there are quite a few regressive and overbearing programs and policies that the Obama administration has either kept around from the Bush administration(s) or hatched on its own — often on the pretense of “safeguarding us from terrorism.” Many of you can rattle them off like months on a calendar.
I’m resisting the temptation to list them, because:
- That would be a major distraction in a “film review” [OK, a states’ rights review].
- It would appear unpatriotic, pro-“terrorist,” and subversive; our mission at Cannabis Commerce is the overthrow of worldwide prohibition, not the overthrow of the US government.
Sorry if this bursts your bubble, but suffice it to say there is very little in the Obama administration’s record to indicate that out of the blue it’s going to capitulate and voluntarily remove federal prohibition on its own volition.
It could happen, but so could the following:
“The Obama administration announced today that it’s turning over all production and distribution of marijuana to Big Pharma … which should have been entrusted with medical marijuana all along. This settles the question of whether states will be able to legalize recreational marijuana while simultaneously removing statewide medical marijuana provisions, too.”
I don’t know everything, but gauging from the actual evidence whether the Obama administration is moving in the direction of more freedom or less freedom — First Amendment rights in particular are under assault — let’s just say that if it adopts an extreme hardline stance, it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising.
Now that it’s confronted with the statewide “regulate marijuana like alcohol and tobacco” threat, if the US government escalates its hardline stance against the cannabis plant into who knows what form of retribution, there will be one and only one reason: when we had the opportunity to demand the repeal of federal prohibition and the immediate restoration of all God-given herbal rights for the long haul, shortsighted “activists” settled for heavily restricted, state-by-state quasi-legalization instead.
But let’s not be completely negative. Another factor could come into play. It so happens that President Obama keeps a portrait of Abraham Lincoln next to a picture of Dr. Martin Luther King in his office.
It’s a fairly safe assumption that he admires their greatness. If he admires their greatness, he probably wants to join the club. Doing that requires performing great deeds to go down in history lionized like them. One great deed would be issuing an Executive Order — not an unbinding memo — that would make all of us very happy indeed. You know exactly what that is.
If Obama decides he really wants to be great, and he tars and feathers federal prohibition, this would be his reward:
Enjoy that for a moment.
And enjoy this quote from director Steven Spielberg:
Lincoln had the ambition. He had a beautiful vision for America. But I don’t know what kind of progress he would have made without the crisis that fell into his lap. I also don’t know what kind of a president FDR would have become without the Great Depression and World War II, or what Kennedy would ultimately have been remembered for without all of us standing on the brink of nuclear holocaust during the Cuban missile crisis. —Steven Spielberg in Time magazine.
Worldwide marijuana persecution qualifies as a crisis around these parts — a crisis that’s a perfect setup for a heroic presidential intervention.
Now come back to Earth.
It’s still a mistake for the herbal rights movement to count on that eventuality. It’s a matter of considerable speculation. But while we’re all speculating, keep in mind that portrait of Lincoln. Ask yourself: would an ardent Lincoln admirer be more likely to a) keep all of prohibition or none of it at all, or b) allow each state to deal with marijuana reform how they damn well please? And don’t forgot to include Attorney General Eric Holder in your musing. Pretty easygoing guy, is he?
Leaving the realm of speculation, let’s see how things are adding up after “Marijuana Legalized in Colorado and Washington.”
Do the math
Could it be 750 times harder to gain herbal rights by going the long way around — state-by-state — instead of removing federal prohibition in one fell swoop? Glad you asked. I think so, although I don’t have a Memorial named after me on the Capitol Mall.
Honest Abe, who does, concurs once again:
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
By way of explanation, let’s begin by noting one byproduct of Colorado Amendment 64: previously, possession of one ounce or less of the magical weed in the City of Denver carried a whopping $100 fine — less than the penalty for most speeding tickets. Theoretically [the feds still to be heard from], that fine has been revoked.
In the words of Tony the Tiger, “Grrrrrrreat!”
- All the people of Denver gained from passing Amendment 64 was the removal of a $100 fine.
- There will be [hypothetically again; we all wait with bated breath for the federal reaction] a feeble one-ounce limit placed on recreation pot purchases … which sounds better than nothing until you stop and consider that current MMJ regulations permit purchasing up to two ounces.
Now, I don’t possess a PhD. in Quantum Physics, but even I can calculate that not only haven’t we gained any rights, but what miniscule rights we already had have been slashed in half! Is that a personal opinion? Hardly. One divided by two is one-half most places on Earth.
That means that maybe, on January 14th, 2014, if the feds call off the dogs, we can buy half the amount of cannabis “patients” can buy right this second in the City of Denver.
In the immortal words of poteconomist John McEnroe, “You cannot be serious!”
Such dummied-down legislation begs the following question: at this halting rate, going one step forwards and two steps backwards, exactly how many more statewide elections would the State of Colorado have to hold and win to gain a full complement of herbal rights equal to the repeal of Prohibition?
Five? Ten? Fifteen? Fifty?
Let’s guesstimate that it would take fifteen elections, though when you mull over the glacial progress noted above, that number may be plaid-pants conservative.
Multiple fifty states by fifteen:
50 x 15 = 750
That works out to 750 statewide elections that have to be not just held but won to equal the full compliment of rights we’d gain from one  repeal of federal prohibition. Not all of these elections will be won, of course, so the actual number is much greater.
Conclusion: I pity anyone who feels that taking the tranquilizing drug of gradualism is the path to achieving full legalization.
That’s a big pity party, because so many of you just voted that way — although you didn’t get to hear too many voices like this one beforehand; to date they’ve been drowned out by the general tide of misinformation.
Furthermore, had anyone actually tried to read Amendment 64, they would have been taken aback to find that the entire document is written in ALL CAPS which would discourage anyone who hasn’t gone through law school from wading through the legalese long before they reached the “any city or county can opt out” clause.
Permit the mathematician in me to identify the state-by-state strategy for what it really is: the perfect formula for sustaining the policy of grovelization for the life of us we can’t seem to shake.
accepting five percent of our God-given herbal rights = lasting grovelization
Is there any remedy for state-by-state grovelization?
Organization. Conviction. Determination. Resilience. Persistence. Relentlessness.
Great movements have great leaders.
Great movements have great vision.
Great movements aren’t stumped by state lines.
Great movements can unite disparate organizations for the common good.
Great movements think big.
Great Presidents think big.
None of the Great Men of History mentioned in this article settled for a minute fraction of the rights their causes had coming to them — but marijuana activists do it unfailingly, every chance they get.
The headless legalize-it-state-by-state organism continues ignoring the lessons of history. The blueprint for successfully transcending rights struggles is right there before their very eyes, yet they can’t see it: play it like Lincoln, Gandhi, and MLK played it.
Meanwhile, Cannabis Commerce keeps reprising the lessons of history from behind a chain-link fence, a lone voice howling in the wilderness.