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June 2010
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Ending Drug Prohibition: The Key is the Republican 2012 Primary

To follow up on Pete’s post regarding political conservatives favoring an end to prohibition I must add that now is a great chance to start working to place a drug policy reform candidate on the GOP 2012 presidential ticket.  We can wait for Congress to reschedule cannabis and other substances, and pass more reform oriented legislation, but the legislative process is long and cumbersome.  Unfortunately the Supreme Court doesn’t seem very promising either in bringing an end to the unjust drug prohibition and ultimately a significant change would likely have to come from the executive branch.  Nixon declared the war, Kerlikowske said it is over, but liberty hasn’t been restored and people are still in prison.

Now Obama seems bent on getting reelected so much so that he won’t do anything drastic on this issue in a first term that could jeopardize his chances.  However, let’s just hypothesize that if he were to get reelected then he might actually change some policies.  This might be tough for some readers to assume but he has made some strong statements about the ills of the drug war.  But let us assume this for now and as a movement do our part to make it easiest for the president, whoever it may be, to end this prohibition.

The best thing that drug policy reformers can and should be doing now is to mobilize behind Republican reform candidates.  If we can get a Republican candidate who supports drug policy reform on the ballot against Obama, then we have shifted the debate from “should we?” to “how do we end prohibition?”  That type of shift would help the general public’s perception of the issue too.  In fact, the O’Rielly Factor had two segments this past week on prohibition, one blasting the DPA video and the other discussing Freedom Watch’s questions distinguishing the positions of Ron Paul and Sarah Palin on legalizing cannabis.

The Our America Initiative pushing former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson into the national spotlight feels like our best shot in my opinion.  He easily could be considered a toned down Ron Paul and with the Republican field looking like the horse race that it is, I think this is our best bet for getting a good candidate on the ticket in order to bring about an end to this failed policy.

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38 comments to Ending Drug Prohibition: The Key is the Republican 2012 Primary

  • denmark

    Agree, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson in 2012.

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    • James

      Our only hope for Legalization AND saving American troops AND bringing back the power of our dollar is Ron Paul. The main reason he is considered a “kook” is because MainStreamMedia portrays him as such. His policies are solid and he has stayed the course for over 30 years now.

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      • James

        We MUST vote for him in the Primary for the upcoming Election. We as citizens (not government or corporations) MUST come together and support a candidate that is near the top and proven to uphold the constitution and the rights of American Citizens.

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  • Voletear

    Hasn’t Johnson been busily putting space twixt himself and the movement? – except for medicann, that is.

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  • Stewart

    Wasn’t Obama supposed to be that reform candidate? Why should we waste organizing energy on an electoral process that has failed to produce a sensible drug policy candidate since the drug war’s inception? Yes, level minded politicians in office is nice, but debate and discourse change when enough people become aware of the current crisis and a sensible alternative. ANY candidate will be a “drug reform candidate” when masses of people demand specific policy change. Never forget the rosy rhetoric of Obama on the campaign trail (and well into office) and 0 changes in policy direction.

    The best thing drug reformers can do right now is NOT mobilizing behind candidate X or Y, but helping with California’s tax and regulate campaign, continuing to educate and articulate the mess prohibition creates, and being unremittingly critical of those who continue policies that destroy lives.

    I don’t mean to suggest that we disengage from legislative/electoral politics altogether, but prohibition MUST end. If getting a progressive candidate into office or even in the general election increases discussion, (and hopefully epiphany at the current situation), then it is a victory albeit a small one. The point, however, isn’t to infiltrate the political system with reformers; but to put enough pressure on the system to force reform.

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  • Nick

    Screw Obama, he blew his chance!

    If it’s a democrat, Kucinich. A republican – Ron Paul.

    Green Party – that’s what I’m looking for. A truly good anti-prohibitionist (and antiwar) Green Candidate could be the popular favorite, because everyone knows the dems have sold out to the corporations, just like the repugs.

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  • Gary Johnson certainly isn’t running from the issue of drug prohibition. In April he issued a press release calling for the legalization of marijuana:

    http://ouramericainitiative.com/blog/news-release-gary-calls-for-legalization-of-marijuana-to-reduce-crime-in-america.html

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  • Voletear is correct – Johnson is putting distance between his original advocacy for ending drug prohibition and his “new” position of just ending marijuana prohibition. Nothing wrong with that, I guess, but it exposes his willingness to bend to the Republican political winds – even though his chances of getting the Republican nod are not good.

    The Libertarian Party has, since its founding in 1971, been an advocate for ending drug prohibition. As a result, the LP was branded the crazy ones, the “druggies”. Well, it seems as though the electorate is now catching up to us. And the LP is beginning to feel its oats on the issue – and unwilling to cede it to either of the major political parties.

    Bob Barr, on a number of levels, failed as the 2008 LP presidential candidate. But perhaps his greatest failing was not pursuing the drug prohibition issue and those who support its repeal. I have remained active in the LP and can assure you that come 2012, whomever we nominate as our presidential nominee (and it could be me) will not repeat the Barr mistake.

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  • Just Legalize It

    i will not vote for someone who wants me in jail

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  • denmark

    It is interesting listening to the candidates, whatever office they’re running for.
    The “big” topics are of course covered in their campaigns, the economy, jobs, big government, blah, blah, blah. I’ve yet to hear any of them discuss the drug war.

    It’s almost like going to the same Psychic for 10 years, after awhile you already know what’s going to be said. My words to all these political candidates are: “Tell me something new, tell me something I haven’t heard before, and please tell me something I don’t already know”. And I’d like to interject “how about being intrepid and REALLY discussing the failed drug war policy”.

    As far as voting for any candidate that is not a Democrat or Republican, well, you are throwing your vote away. Sorry, that’s the way it is. When it changes, if it does, I’ll be pleased however I don’t see an off shoot political party winning anything.

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  • pvt pyle

    I wouldn’t become a one issue voter to elect a Republican, no matter what the issue.

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  • Stewart

    Denmark-

    I understand your position that voting for anyone outside the Republican/Democrat dichotomy is throwing your vote away. The position I postulate to YOU is that voting for a Democrat/Republican is also throwing your vote away. By accepting the limitations of the two party system we succumb to their framing of the issues. Don’t underestimate the power of resistance.

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  • Paul

    Well, one thing we now know is that Obama isn’t going to help us one little bit. No surprises there. But we could do worse, and get a president who would actively escalate the drug war. How you vote depends on who winds up on the Republican ticket.

    I’m not too concerned about throwing my vote away. If I can’t see much difference between the main candidates, I’ll vote Libertarian. I’ll also vote Libertarian if the race is a done deal and my vote won’t matter.

    I almost never vote FOR a candidate, but I often vote AGAINST a candidate. Sometimes one or the other is so awful in a close race you have to hold your nose and just vote for the other guy.

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  • Chris

    <iKELLY: Cocaine is not the same thing as alcohol. Seventy-five percent addiction rate of people who try cocaine…
    O'REILLY: And heroin is even worse.
    KELLY: Ten percent on alcohol.
    O'REILLY: And methamphetamine?
    KELLY: These people want it all legal.
    O'REILLY: Right.
    KELLY: All of it. Crack, the…

    Wow, that must be some good coke. But these numbers are waaaaaaaaaay off here.

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  • Skip Flipto

    Let’s put our faith in hopey changey it has worked so well this far. (sarcasm)

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  • Windy

    Those who are “concerned” about “throwing away their vote” on a LP or other party candidate, I’d like to refer you to a comment on the previous article by Michael Robert Sawyer, he tells it like it really is and if you don’t listen to him we will still be doing this same politial dance 20 or 50 years from now. If you want government to pay attention to our issue you MUST vote outside their D/R box, if you do not, they will continue doing the same old, same old shit they’ve been doing since Lincoln.

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  • daksya

    Chris, the numbers are way off. To take cocaine, 5-6% of users estimatedly become dependent within 2 years of first use, and that number tops off at ~15% after 10 years from first use. Within the same ballpark as alcohol.

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  • DLR

    If we’re thinking strategically, Ron Paul. He has the organization and support to actually win the primary in a wide-open race (though his son doesn’t help) whereas a Johnson candidacy probably just helps Palin or Romney (or – shudder – both) win. But Ron Paul is extremely unlikely to win the general election. However, in debates he can – and is likely to – embarass Obama on his drug war hypocrisy and change the underlying nature of the debate.

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  • Chris

    The latest polls show that Ron Paul runs neck and neck with Obama in a hypothetical matchup in 2012. It is a tie as of right now(latest poll was a couple of weeks ago).

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  • paul

    DLR:

    You may be right about Ron Paul. He comes off as either a certified kook, or everyone’s trusted grandpa telling it straight. It would be very hard for Obama to support the status quo with Paul telling Obama from the right that he needs to legalize drugs to save black people from the prison scourge.

    Unfortunately, Paul just ain’t gonna win with Republican primary.

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  • Scott

    A major missing ingredient in our movement is sufficiently-passionate public support.

    We are always up against the iron triangle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_triangle), in which the “incarceration lobby” wields more power than we do, given the continued existence of the unconstitutional, ineffective, destructive, and unwarranted prohibition of certain drugs.

    The fair argument against rallying the public is well-articulated in the aforementioned Wiki entry:

    “Large segments of the public have diffuse interests, seldom vote, may be rarely or poorly organized and difficult to mobilize, and are often lacking in resources or financial muscle.”

    However, our need for solid public relations to help strengthen our ability to work within the iron triangle is undeniable.

    Being right is never enough. We have been right for many decades, and that right has been sufficiently ignored in the halls of power.

    Since drug prohibition has been ruled constitutional solely due to the Commerce Clause, persuading conservatives (to the point of publicly humiliating them, if need be) is easy.

    “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;” – U.S. Constitution (Commerce Clause)

    The free growth, free distribution, and free possession of marijuana, all within a single state, is banned due solely to that clause.

    Given that rationality is critical when interpreting law, you do not need to be a legal expert to see that somewhere along the legal path relevant to the Commerce Clause, our Supreme Court stopped doing their job to just interpret the law, and started effectively legislating from the bench (a.k.a. judicial activism).

    That “legislation” is the current interpretation of the Commerce Clause:

    “To regulate any activity having a substantial affect on interstate commerce.” – U.S. Supreme Court

    This ridiculous interpretation is the essence of Gonzales v. Raich, and Justice Clarence Thomas explained the extremely serious problem resulting from this interpretation well in his dissent:

    “Respondents Diane Monson and Angel Raich use marijuana that has never been bought or sold, that has never crossed state lines, and that has had no demonstrable effect on the national market for marijuana. If Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything–and the Federal Government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers.”

    If possessing a plant has a substantial affect on interstate commerce, than your thought activity (determining every facet of your buying and selling decisions) has that affect too.

    Simply put, if drug prohibition stands, literally the written American foundation does not.

    Tell any conservative who supports drug prohibition that (s)he supports the essential ingredient of the liberal/progressive movement, the abuse of the Commerce Clause that has justified the flood of “public servant” interference in the private sector since the New Deal began (and will likely justify Obamacare).

    The interpretation of the Commerce Clause is so ridiculous, it is inevitable that the Supreme Court will need to seriously limit the reach of their interpretation in future rulings, or face serious public consequences.

    Freely possessing a drug will not likely survive that limiting process. We need to play our part to ensure that.

    The dilemma for many in our movement is that they are liberals/progressives. To restore the original interpretation of the Commerce Clause would be a tremendous defeat against their ‘government control is the answer’ movement.

    I agree that ending marijuana prohibition in CA is the top priority, but next in line should be publicly exposing the unbelievably weak connection between the CSA and our Constitution in conservative forums, adding the simple challenge to all drug prohibitionists to prove any disaster happened as a result of the many penalty reductions associated with illicit drugs (including Portugal decriminalizing all drugs in 2001).

    Drug prohibition has no legs to stand on. The public needs to clearly know that.

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  • Scott

    Corrections (I am not awake yet this morning):

    “However, our need for solid public relations to help strengthen our ability to work within the iron triangle is undeniable.”

    However, our need for solid public relations to help strengthen our ability to work within the iron triangle is undeniable, given that public pressure against the iron triangle is the only option we have (if we continue to be unable to find powerful allies within that triangle).

    “Being right is never enough. We have been right for many decades, and that right has been sufficiently ignored in the halls of power.”

    Being right is never enough. We have been right for many decades, and that right has been sufficiently ignored in the halls of power. We must publicly present ourselves as right too. The mainstream media has generally abandoned their code of ethics regarding drug prohibition, and so we must apply pressure to publicly challenge them on that fact, as well as bypass them to possible extent.

    Since conservatives have already established channels to bypass the left-dominant mainstream media (made up mostly of registered Democrats), such channels including talk radio and the blogosphere, it is wise for us to directly work within those channels.

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  • Just me.

    I really dont think it matters who gets in…Ron paul, Rand , a tea party candidate or demcrate candidate. Whether they say they will do the will of the people or not. Its the government its self that is corrupt, those who really rule it. I dont think presidents really matter.

    This country is blind .

    Only a full on revolution will ever change it. No I dont want violence. No I dont want people in government dead, bvut how else do you change a behemoth that ignores you?

    This “government” has hijacked OUR constitution for its own agendas. They hide behind it when it suits them and shred it when its in the way.

    The problem is, I dont think this country will ever have the guts to stand and say “NO MORE BULLSHIT!”

    Wanna end prohibition? How bout taking away thier power first.

    States Rights over federal corruption.

    (Oh well, nice speech i guess.Feels good to vent though.)

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  • ezrydn

    It’s a bit early to be considering 2012 elections. Right now, it would seem to me that we need to be focusing on getting California installed so we have a model for others to see. Then, we’ve got 2 years to figure out what to do with the 2012 election.

    Right now, I’m more focused on removing incumbents. After all, they are one of our biggest blockades. New blood is needed from within to voice for us.

    To me, what I read above seems more like a distraction than an assist.

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  • Shap

    Have to take into account viability. Without viability, honestly who gives a shit about the candidate? Ron Paul is our best and only chance. He won the straw pole at CPAC and was one vote shy of taking the poll at the southern leadership conference. Also, if you take into account his favor among the Tea partiers and he could seriously contend in a time period in which there is seious anti-federal government fervor. This is not to mention that he is the most vocal elected official in favor of ending drug prohibition. He could make a serious impact with regard to his potential ability to appoint heads of executive agecies: DEA, FBI, etc.

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  • Ripmeupacuppa

    Looks like there’s gonna be blood on the tracks:
    .

    Early one mornin’ the sun stopped shinin’,
    I was layin’ in bed
    Wond’rin’ if it would ever change at all
    Or would we just all wind up dead.
    Many folks they said things from here on in
    Sure was gonna get beyond rough
    They never did like Nixon’s homemade dress
    There ain’t never been a bankbook big enough.
    And I was standin’ on the side of the road
    Ashes fallin’ on my shoes
    Heading out for the West coast
    Lord knows I’ve paid some dues gettin’ through,
    Lay me down in Red, White & Blue.

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  • claygooding

    Gary Johnson was on the Colbert Report recently and was pushing legalization for recreational use but denying running for office. I wish we could get Judge Gray interested in the politics.

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  • Katie

    If anyone has a moment, I suggest that you go look for more information on Gary Johnson –

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Gary-Johnson-Our-America/165297924363

    He recently formed the Our America Initiative (http://ouramericainitiative.com) to speak about his views in regards to limited government and freedom. He has been an outspoken advocate for efficient government, lower taxes, and protection of civil liberties, revitalization of the economy and promoting entrepreneurship and privatization.

    He is the type of leader that I think we need right now. I’ve already expressed my support and I hope that others will do the same.

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  • Ned

    The vast majority of voters, especially parents, across the US believe in the fallacy that illegality is how drugs are “controlled”. They believe that it equates to approval or disapproval of use. That legalization is an endorsement to use. They believe myths and misleading or distorted statistics about the drugs. Worse, they believe there is only one way to address drugs and drug use in society. They believe that only prohibition is the way that a moral, christian society could approach drugs because anything else would a catastrophic surrender and a descent into chaos and anarchy. Lots well educated otherwise smart people think that. The framing of the discussion in the media mostly comes from this line of thinking. The topic is raised, both the bottom line is always that surrender to drugs is not an option for moral christians. This is the political reality that politicians see. The perception is it is too powerful to go against and the “constituency” for the issue isn’t worth the effort. Add to that the massively entrenched bureaucracy the must be overcome and this is going to be very hard to do.

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  • Voletear

    I nominate Ethan Nadelmann for President.

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  • denmark

    So many excellent comments on this thread. Even as a Pro Legalization community we are divided on the political end of things though.
    The Presidential candidate that comes out and says he’s for Legalization will get my vote, however, I do like, so far Gary Johnson.
    After the newly elected President takes office, then we really need to be aggressive, calmly aggressive, to see that it gets done.

    Have written it here before and will repeat it. One of the Legalization organizations said early on they thought Obama, aka Bambi, would get elected to a second term and then he’d basically be what is termed a Lame Duck President. At that point this organization believes he would probably end Prohibition.

    Also heard criticism of Bambi today, that criticism being that he’s a “man” who wants to tackle the largest issue and doesn’t really pay much attention to the mundane smaller issues.
    All I can say to Bambi right now is:
    how damn big do you think the War on Drugs is?

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  • Steven Rollins

    I, Steven R. Rollins, declare: During my maturing, I was learning life; what was missing, why was the law twisted, why does a person do evil, etc? I knew there was a God but was not connected unknowingly (Ephesians 2:12-13). There are two ways of learning: experience and reading. I tried to read the KJV of the bible but didn’t understand so I lived life through trial and error. It has words in it that are not in the English dictionary. It was written for England (preface). If there wasn’t anything wrong with it, all these other versions would not have been written. My parents did a good job at raising me (1 Cor. 9:5). I read the NIV of the bible for the first time in 1996, which was the beginning of my path of faith. I was baptized January 2000. I’ve read the NIV 12 times to date, many other versions of the bible, Koran, Karma Sutra, Dead Sea Scrolls, Wycliffe Bible Commentary, etc. Those who wrote the Koran read the KJV of the bible and then wrote that book. Judas was replaced by a man named Matthias, so there were still 12 apostles (Acts 1:26). Don’t read to memorize, read to get an understanding. If you only read part, your mind is left to wander about the rest.

    Marijuana (THC), Weed is Genesis 9:3 in the bible. A drug is two are more chemicals or man-made. (Anything sold in the meat market) USDA, at $5lb and weed dispensary membership (1 Cor. 10:25). Mr. Government, you are wrong for all the confusion that you have caused, from the homeless to a person losing their life over a single joint. Labeling weed a narcotic. The officer said he was doing his job. Illegal search and seizure, detained, harassed, no suite?

    I declare under penalty of perjury of the law of the United States of America that the above is true and correct to the best of my knowledge.

    Steven R. Rollins

    P.S.
    False prophets, lying preachers and blind leaders are what I’m up against? God made you not Satan. The people ate weed back in the day. The people are separated from the church by the state of their minds or because of the state of their minds (2 Cor. 3:15). This is the separation of church and state. What is the difference between being saved and being born-again? Being baptized.
    I’m to come biblically about weed!! The only way to know the truth is to read it for yourself. There once was a law that if you read the bible they would kill you. When in Rome, do as the Romans do? You better read Romans before you relate (Psalms 120:6-7). No more blind leading the blind. The badge is a servant of God, to protect and serve (Romans 13:1-7). The purpose of the law is to bring a person to God (Galatians 3:24). How are you going to accomplish this if you don’t know God yourself (Luke 7:29-30). John 16:2-4 is a terrorist, the blind, a cop.
    “If you don’t know the truth, you are only left to believe a lie (1 Timothy 4:1-16).

    Acts 3:22
    I’m one of millions
    the best of the best
    set apart from the rest
    I stayed ready so I wouldn’t have to get ready
    Get right or get left (Get right with God or get left behind)

    “There is a God, He has a son and his name is Jesus.”

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  • unique like everyone else

    Vote for satan and cut out the middlemen.

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  • Paul

    Cthulhu for President!

    “Why vote for the LESSER of two evils?”

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  • DLR

    One more quick word about Ron Paul’s viability: I’m up in the state of Maine, where Tea Party support allowed the worst Repugnicant (xtreme social conservative, made his money selling damaged and close-out crap – including Chinese HABA – to those too poor to afford better) to trounce the rest of the field in the primary for Governor. Even worse, the Dems went with the least inspiring candidate of a field of four (typical, typical) which gives the jerkoff an actual chance. Point is, a unified base (“Tea Party”) rallying around a candidate can carry that candidate to victory in a wide-open field. So Paul could well win the primary.

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  • Good post! Keep going! I subscribe to your blog!

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  • claygooding

    As we draw closer to Nov,it is getting harder to be courteous and affable while being a pain in the ass
    at the same time.
    I am leaning towards becoming just a pain in the ass and screw their feelings but realize that sugar draws more ants than crap. And we need all the ants we can get,to ever get anything done.
    I do not believe we will accomplish anything on the federal level until we have about 1/3 of the states legalized for recreational and 2/3 medical.
    The very same industries that created this mess to protect their profits in 1937 still want hemp outlawed
    now and they are still some of the most powerful lobbies in DC. Added to that now are the spin-off industries created by the prohibition and special interest groups that want to keep marijuana illegal for the same reasons.
    Plus the army of government employees that has been built up over the last 42 years in support of and waging the war on America,just protecting their jobs.
    We,the people will have to take our right too cannabis
    back one state at a time.
    Proof of the powers of the above groups,14 states now have medical marijuana laws and our nations capitol is working out the bugs in their program,with many more states having bills pending for m/m and they are still managing to keep marijuana as a schedule 1 drug,and they are keeping any bills from being voted on or even any committee’s addressing that marijuana is scheduled wrong. That is big money.
    With all the press,all the research,all the polls supporting m/m and even medicines derived from marijuana,
    they are keeping it schedule 1,without any real challenges on the horizon.

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  • joe

    Kucinich!

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