Change and Incrementalism

Although the recent Holder memo doesn’t really change anything in a concrete way (and the Drug Czar and DEA claim that it’s business as usual), there is at least a public perception that there is a kind of tipping point happening here (and perception often drives public policy more than fact).

Sasha Abramsky, writing in the Guardian, says

In and of itself, this is a relatively minor event, a common-sense corrective to another rigid and bullying Bush-era policy. And, in and of itself, there’s not much political capital at stake here for Obama. […]

But, there’s a bigger story here. And it’s that story of the ship of state.

If you exercise too sharp a turn, you risk capsizing. If you go into the turn gradually, giving yourself plenty of room to manoeuvre, you’ve got a much better chance of getting where you want to ultimately go. […]

If you analyse politics simply via the 24-hour-news-cycle, then Obama’s achievements in reforming drug policy have been modest. But, if you think long term […] then I would venture to bet that Monday’s shift on medical marijuana presages some fundamental changes in how America approaches its many drug problems in the years to come.

Over at Narco News, Al Giordano also makes the case for incrementalism The Medical Cannabis Victory: A Textbook Case of Organizing and Resistance

It’s a powerful piece that will be controversial with many, including some regulars here.

…small steps lead to big change […]

In the mid-1990s, some forward-thinking advocates of drug policy reform concluded that the big, central matter – whether recreational drugs should be legalized or not – was simply too big and confusing a matter for so much of the public to tackle all at once. Even the matter of legalizing relatively harmless marijuana was overwhelming in terms of public opinion. As the Gallup poll graph above recounts, in 1996 only 25 percent of Americans favored legalizing marijuana, with 73 percent opposed. Any organizing strategy under such overwhelming negative numbers that chose polarization over organizing was doomed to fail.

And so some pioneering voices and organizers set about on a path of incremental change. They chose to hit hard upon a brittle crack in the drug war artifice: that even if three-quarters of Americans did not then want cannabis legalized for everyone, a critical mass had grave misgivings about policies that persecuted people who were ill – with glaucoma, cancer, AIDS, MS and other ailments – and needed the plant as medicine. […]

Thirteen years later, those who enacted the incremental strategy have proved correct, indeed, prophetic. […]

The history textbooks will note forevermore, when looking back at how the United States repealed pot prohibition (something that will likely now come in most of our lifetimes) that it was the strategy of incremental change that opened the floodgates to fundamental change. […]

…there is also a lesson here for the cynics who, in lieu of participating in community organizing and civil resistance campaigns, preferred to talk trash against step-by-step movements for change on any policy front and pose as somehow more “radical” or “pure.” […]

It is by winning those step-by-step incremental victories – through proven methods of community organizing and civil resistance – that more fundamental change is made possible, indeed, likely to come faster than many dreamed just thirteen years ago.

Have at it.

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34 Responses to Change and Incrementalism

  1. daksya says:

    That ship analogy can also illustrate the opposite. If you turn too gradually, the current will have carried you so far ahead, you may have lost sight of where it is you wanted to go, or worse, descended off a waterfall, but now I’ve gotten silly, but so’s the analogy.

    Thirteen years later, those who enacted the incremental strategy have proved correct, indeed, prophetic.
    Huh? Forget repeal of drug prohibition, or even marijuana prohibition, we haven’t even had legal pot in a single US state, and the MMJ raids continued even after Obama assumed office. This memo is a modest step to attune the admininstration with the sensibilities of its core base, and not the tentative first step towards ultimate reform.

    As I’ve said on this blog atleast 3 years ago, the natural demographic change in the US will get us close to legalization by 2020, and that will reflect nothing on the efficacy of the incremental reformists.

  2. Wendy says:

    If the Drug Czar and the DEA are so great then someone please tell me why they ignore Utah as the second biggest grower in the U.S. year after year.

    I can estimate at least $150M the past decade here and no one (no one) is ever held accountable.

    Doesn’t this fact stir up anyone’s rage other than my own?

    It is the mafia behind it and my federal standing case which is now headed to the U.S. Supreme Court CAN and WILL prove it.

  3. Nick says:

    I couldn’t agree more with Al on that one.
    Always forward, never strait.
    I believe we will see a steady move towards medical marijuana with full legalization in my lifetime.
    Just wish it would hurry the hell up.

  4. ezrydn says:

    While Holder’s recent announcement wasn’t much, in and of itself, it DID cause a big wave through the many DA offices. Several state officials have been quoted as having an understanding that the Feds won’t interfere with “State Law.” This, in turn, has prompted more states to consider the MMJ question. Even the repeal of alcohol prohibition didn’t happen overnight. Ratification took a while. Personally, I think we’re further than just “beginning a turn.”

  5. jayrollinhippie says:

    Wow, I just saw The week with George Stephenopolis on ABC and to my surprise arch consevative George Will said of all things the way to hurt the Mexican drug cartels would be to legalize marijuana , during a discussionon on the new medical marijuana statement from the Obama DOJ adminastration.
    LOL when george Will speaks this way its A sure sign we are winning the hearts and minds of the conservative movement

  6. the “incremental” approach has been ongoing as long as the modern phase of the drug war itself. that’s why there were more “medical marijuana” states in the 1970s than there are now.

    so before we start the victory dance we need to consider a few things:

    increasing numbers of people are arrested every year for simple marijuana possession. indeed, nearly every year a new record number of arrests occur — sadly enough, including in california.

    ending the prohibition of marijuana in the United States will not do a damn thing to interfere with mexican drug cartels — simply because the real money is in powder drugs at the moment, and unless marijuana becomes legal everywhere at the same time, a still thriving black market will need to be supplied.

    “medicalizing” marijuana is not a guranteed path to unpunished recreational use. cocaine, morphine, methamphetamine and a whole cornucopia of pharmaceuticals are already “legal” as medicine.

    medicalizing marijuana use in the United States (and even in the majority of “western” nations) will not alter in the least the horrifying landscapes left in the wake of the drug war worldwide. this isn’t just about changing pot laws — it’s about changing the entire world. the US led the world into this war — thus the US needs to LEAD the world out of it.

    finally, even biological processes that evolve over very long periods of time benefit from on occasional “radical” change.


    the bottom line is that none of this is really about drug use in the first place: it’s about recognizing the sovereignty that every human possesses over their choices about themself. none of us has the “right” to dictate the lifestyle choices of others. and we certainly are not in possession of the right to kill those who choose to do things to themselves with which we disagree.

    it is tolerance that is the true cause of the slow course corrections in our society which have led to every civil rights victory — including eventually the one we are currently fighting for.

    it ain’t about “medicine.” but it is finally time to push for the complete end of it all.

  7. iDub says:

    Was incremental approach also used to repeal alcohol prohibition?

  8. aussidawg says:

    As has been pointed out in many places and many different times, the debate about drug prohibition and what actually happenes in law are two different animals. Even if the public were overwhelmingly in favor of legalization, the “government” will do as it continues to do because of the money that is generated by black market prices.

    This issue is very similar the healthcare debate. The majority of people want a public option available that will create competition in the insurance marketplace. But, as is painfully obvious, that is NOT what “our” leaders want. To cut the profits of the monopoly health insurance industry is to cut the money flowing into the pockets of our governing elite. The same applys to drug prohibition. Does anybody honestly think that our elected representatives or for that matter government itself, don’t profit from the prohibition of certain drugs? Of course not. This is not, nor has it ever been an issue of public health, it is an issue of money. The quickest way to end drug prohibition is to make prohibition more costly for the powers that be than it is profitable. How to do this I don’t know, but I truly that is the key to legalization.

  9. claygooding says:

    It took 8 months for all the lawyers in the Justice Department to write a three page memo?
    That is the delay bought by big pharmacy while hey try to get mandatory insurance for everyone so that the medications they have left after marijuana makes many of them obsolete will be paid for.
    They stand to lose billions in cancer treatments alone if the study from Spain is correct or even close in estimating a 62% reduction in cancer cases for them too treat.
    The legalization of marijuana will probably be one of the largest shifts in wealth we will see in our lifetime.
    The baby steps are not because we need time to adjust for marijuana legalization,but for the wealthy to get their money into new ares while they still can.

  10. DdC says:

    Al Giordano’s always been a naive dick. Nixon lied, thats the story.
    All the shit stems from that lie. All the death and prison time. All the wasted money and stigmatizing. All the synthetic fossil fools monopolies making us sick. Pharmaceuticals with side effects. All cause of Al Giordano’s appeasers. Politically correct Klintoonian assholes. Like Stephenopolis and the group today. The liberal saying he felt better about it being legal since his teenagers are grown? What about all the terrorizing sick people and cage time during Klintoon? Then Gorge Will drumming up the mo potent horshit. But its expected of GOPerverts.

    Incremental my ass, Minnehaha is busting bong water for christ sakes! Is Charlie Lynch free? Slaves apologizing for those trying to escape. Snitching on their own for favor of the despot. I’ve supported Giordano’s rants and law suits. Same as I collected sigs for SC’s measure A in 93 and prop 215 in 96. Any cease fire in a combat zone is better than nothing. But that doesn’t mean its justified. Its a war zone tactic. Not dealing with reality as the political reform groups getting paychecks to reform, not win or lose. No different than the drug thug worriers only getting paid fighting the war, not in Peace. Still keeping the Hemp and Recreational cannabis off the market shelves. Fuck the Apologists!

    Does he just forgive and forget Iran Contra thugs? Most became Boosh cabinet members or Fox contributors. Obomba is playing the same game as Klintoon’s don’t ask don’t tell. Tossing out more gays than before Kilintoon. Drop a few crumbs to the starving people and they’re stoked. Then ole Al can cheer and brag how he won the war apologizing. Nothing about Al Gore’s Occidental Oil coincidentally needing protection in Plan Scam Colombia. Good reason to send money and support. Klintoon, Boosh and Hutchinson in Mena Arkansas?

    Mena Fiasco – Clinton & Bush – Coke Smuggling
    “I personally witnessed complicity between these two men; Bush and Clinton, in terms of transporting cocaine into the US for the purpose of sale to generate money to fight a war.” -Terry Reed


    Nixon lied and until that is overturned the war ain’t over. You can legalize and get Biraq to roll your doobies, but it ain’t over til the CSA is exposed, and the drug worriers tried and convicted as war criminals and traitors.

    HEMP vs Taxes from Texas

    Booze was prohibited to remove ethanol from the farmers and just as quickly reinstated after fossil fools were established as the norm. With enough regulation to prevent large amounts to run farm machinery. Al Capone and Watergate are red herrings.

    I see in the near future a crisis approaching

    Henry Ford originally made his cars to run on ethanol, so farmers could create their own fuel. (He saw farmers really as his customers originally, since nearly all of us were farmers). Along comes John D. Rockefeller, who wants people to use oil. He provides money to the anti-alcohol movement in order to make Prohibition a reality, and stop the ethanol fuel industry and promote the use of fossil fuels.

    The documentary is called: Fuel
    Trailer is here:

  11. R.O.E. says:

    Ain’t it funny. Here we are looking for alternative fuels and our politicians refuse to look at the 800 pound gorrilla? Makes ya wonders how much one is paid to be blind to hemps pontencial as fuel.

  12. DdC says:

    Drug Worrier Thugs Have No Honor

    Uses for Hemp youtube collection

    The Elkhorn Manifesto

    Before the Gatewood Galbraith for Governor Campaign in 1991, few Kentuckians knew that the plant that the federal government had demonized for over 50 years as “Marijuana – Assassin of Youth,” was, in fact, Cannabis Hemp, the most traded commodity in the world until the mid-1800s, and our state’s number one crop, industry, and most important source of revenue, for over 150 years.

    Today, thanks to the efforts of pioneer hemp researchers and public advocates such as Galbraith, Jack Fraizer, Jack Herer, Chris Conrad, Ed Rosenthal, Don Wirtshafter and others, the federal government’s unjustifiable suppression of our state’s right to develop our most valuable and versatile natural resource, is facing increasing opposition from an informed public. Hemp is now recognized as the number one agriculturally renewable raw material in the world, and perhaps the only crop / industry which can guarantee us industrial and economic independence from the trans-national corporations.

    Nixon lied to schedule Ganja #1.

    What the WHO doesn’t want you to know about cannabis 07/08/01

  13. Voletear says:

    Chicken – Egg

    Which came first? The big memo or the big bust (300 arrested)? Did He give us the announcement on the medical-marijuana busts policy to cover for the the huge DEA action or vice-versa? They sure seem connected per the usual bullshit.

    Incrementalism? We’ll never know till the whole story has been told but one thing’s for sure: “incrementalism” has taken forever to get us what is really not very far. It is, however, the only game in town. Nobody is monkey-wrenching DEA ops or leading marches anywhere. (My sincere apologies to those people who do more than what I’m writing about; you know who you are) “Incrementalism” fits in perfectly with angrily peckin away at the laptop a few hours a week. It’s convenient, isn’t it?

  14. jackl says:

    Good articles by both Sasha Abramsky and Al Giordano, as well as the prescient Obama quote in the Narcosphere article comments. I agree this is a good example of the patience needed for incremental change and the power of community organizing. Turning the big ship slowly is an apt analogy.

    I was also pleased and surprised by Giordano’s endorsement of incrementalism and shout out to Ethan Nadelmann and the DPA. Being that Giordano’s interest seems more about legalization of cocaine and the ill effects of the WoD on Colombia, Mexico and the Southerm Hemisphere, I’d always assumed he was one of the org-hating radicals he was criticizing. (Although he is old enough to recall the 60s where the bad guys used a divide and counquer strategy against leftist groups). Props to Al for his graciousness in crediting Ethan and the medical marijuana activists even though that’s not really so much “his” issue.

    My small quibbles are the false comparison between political “door to door” petition organizers and Internet blogging “theorists”. Not only is this wrong, but IMHO the internet organizers, particluarly MAPINC and the several orgs were instrumental in fostering debate where there was none because of media obstinance and complicity with the government. As I’ve said for years, refiormers own the internet and have since the www became prevalent…our opponents have never figured how to organize effectively.

    Also, as I and others have said, changing demographics are also to be credited; the Gallup poll cited shows the biggest correlation with age; younger people are way more in favor of legalization. Since age is also correlated with willingness to get facts and organize on the Internet as compared to traditional media, it’s hard to tease out those factors precisely, but it is part of the changing picture.

    Lastly, Im also reminded of the session at the 2007 DPA conference about the initially hostile relationships in 2006 between activist orgs like SSDP and Speaker Pelosi who didn’t want to give the kids a “moral victory” by adding any more votes to the defeat of the HEA student loan reform (drug convictions barring or delaying financial aid). The dems explained it was a multi-year “chess game” which would require the election of a Democratic President to replace Bush AND that the Democrat majority ALSO had to survive the 2010 mid-term elections for there to be significant reform. Seems a prescient comment now.


  15. jackl says:

    (end truncated prematurely)

    Just compare Obama’s incremental, cautious move with the Clinton Admins clumsy start with “gays in the military” and the botched Hillary health care reforms and the success of Newt Gingrich trouncing the Dems in the 1994 midterm elections where the Dems lost their majority and Clinton was neutralized well before Monica by his own lack of political skill gives you an appreciation for incrementalism and Obama’s mastery of the game of politics.

  16. BruceM says:

    The history textbooks will note forevermore, when looking back at how the United States repealed pot prohibition (something that will likely now come in most of our lifetimes) that it was the strategy of incremental change that opened the floodgates to fundamental change.

    The United States will cease to exist long before the repeal of pot prohibition. The federal government will go financially bankrupt (it’s been morally bankrupt for decades now), the dollar will become worthless, the US won’t be able to pay off its debt in its own currency (a long-held luxury that our government is just now beginning to lose), we won’t be getting any bailouts from China, and that will be the end – it’s only a few years away.

    And once again, I must point out that ending prohibition doesn’t mean legalizing pot. It means ending ALL prohibition. I don’t mind if, out of a desire of “incrementalism” pot is the first drug to be legalized with others to follow. But I read this and other websites like it very often and I get the sad impression that for most people, marijuana is the ONLY drug they want legalized, and they concede or even admit that all other drugs (heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, LSD, etc) are really too dangerous and are thus properly criminalized. In other words, most people here support the drug war, except for pot (likely their own personal drug of choice). Yeah maybe you don’t like mandatory minimums, maybe you disagree with the crack/powder sentencing disparity, but at the end of the day you probably don’t believe heroin should be sold over the counter right next to the marijuana, tobacco, and beer. This really pisses me off and I find it incredibly hypocritical. Either prohibition is right or it’s wrong, you can’t pick and choose which leaves, pills, and powders people can use and which ones they get thrown in prison for using. I have no problem starting with the legalization of pot. When the world doesn’t fall apart it will make other drugs easier to decriminalize. But I get the impression that most people here don’t want that. Once they can smoke their pot legally, their cause is won and they will have no problem with “hard” drugs still being illegal. They’ll probably become loyal drug warriors themselves now that their own drug of choice is freely available.

    Once America’s federal government ceases to exist in 1.5-2 years, the remaining states will be free to dictate their own drug policies. Some states may very well decide to legalize and tax drugs. With that in mind, let’s not forget that all prohibition is wrong, not just marijuana prohibition. Far more people are suffering because they can’t get opioid pain medication due to opiophobic doctors and DEA persecution than people who need to smoke medical marijuana because Marinol just isn’t as effective or fun. Legalizing opiates is far more important than legalizing marijuana from a humanitarian, suffering reduction point of view. Yet I don’t see anyone arguing for the legalization of opiates – not even pain patients who are told to take tylenol when they have extreme chronic pain.

    Don’t be a hypocrite unless you’re doing it to fight the prohibitionists. You can fight hypocrisy with hypocrisy (something Obama and the Democrats desperately need to learn). The hypocrisy I so often see here justifies the drug war and all the evils of prohibition in the name of legalizing just one drug out of thousands. It’s usually easy to tell the difference between the handful of people who see decriminalizing pot as a good place to begin ending prohibition from the masses of people who see decriminalizing pot as their singular goal and the very definition of “ending prohibition” (“prohibition” to them only means “prohibition of marijuana”).

  17. DdC says:

    Uses for Hemp youtube collection

    Nixon lied to schedule Ganja #1.

    What the WHO doesn’t want you to know about cannabis 07/08/01

    More of the general population in the early 70’s, like the man said, more states. Middle class suits and the dinner party set. Recreational use. Incriminal-mental is a small lesser evil, “treatment”, like what, the plastic gods giving us a day off from the lions? But still practicing the sport. Another carrot on a stick.

    Marijuana: the law vs. 12 million people
    Life magazine Oct 31, 1969. 25-35

  18. DdC says:

    Why Marijuana is illegal (Part 1)
    (Part 2)

    Its a scam, just a slight of hand. Duping folk’s on news programs. Step right up, this way to the Neo-ConPromised land. Truth won’t keep the gravy boat afloat. 98% of the heathen devil weed they say they’re protecting the kids from. Is pheasant habitat. Numbers, Klintoon busted more than Nexxon, Boosh and Rayguns. Asked the Supremes for a favor, to let him shut down the Oakland Buyers Club. Just skip right over the separation. Patriot Ax, Higher Ed Ax, Bliedons RAVE Ax, 404 gag rules, confusing the juries like sounds do the kiddies.

    Bill Bennet – Drug Czar/Education Secretary? Exfuckingscuuuse me? The mere sound of a lil tikes hearing the word “Hemp”, might confuse them, better to remove it. No need to bring up old stories in History class. None of that talk about cannabis tinctures and jazz.

    Tight Like That Gage By Louis Armstrong 04/18/01

    “It really puzzles me to see marijuana connected with narcotics . . . dope and all that crap. It’s a thousand times better than whiskey –
    it’s an assistant – a friend.”

    – Louis Armstrong quote on Marijuana

    Ole NarcoSlotz Bennett is still blabbing for Faux Newts. Lost 8 million dollars in slot machines, money he got writing books about virtues, though the ONDCP is a black budget. His partner was Johnny Pee Waldo. Trust Me kind a guy. No need for reality. Profits at stake. Protecting us. Selling Safety and Liberty and Justice for all with the plastic.

    Them thar they’s that say we don’t need Ganja or Hemp are the same they’s that say we have to send kids to Iraq. Competition is how Capitalism works. When the corporations coerce government or governments coerce corporations it is Fascism. That is directly from removing the Constitutional Checks and Balances and the 4th branch, a Free Press. All bastardized to customize the police action for Bankster and Philanthropy Propaganda laundry mats affectionately known as the Ganjawar. The cornerstone of the WoD. Overturn the CSA, Free the Re-Creational and the RxGanja and Hemp are Free. Separate mother nature and its divide and conquer, or rather divide and perpetuate.

    Its pretty obvious… Americans, on their own, even in spite of harsh and drastic conditions. Can accumulate 800 frickin Ganja Apothecaries in LAPDog turf alone. Home of the DARE & SWAT. Some with vending machines and bakeries. Employing thousands of locals, mostly keeping the cash within the community. Dealing with the problems, not buying tax eating burokritters to supervise. Its like trying to stop Rock and Roll.

    Overturn the CSA Lie. Ganja and Hemp can stand on their own if you just balance the static from these media hog drug worrier chipmunks. Remove the Obomba monopoly on “authorized by the Czar” schwag crushed seeds, leaves and stems sent to the remaining IND patients. btw the 3 things you should never put in a joint or pipe are crushed seeds, leaves and stems. Lets have some good ole measurable science and ah products being sold, totaling hundreds of millions in sales. Not grown by bankrupt American family farms, Impoverished Indians without Casino’s or Mexicans not having to cross desserts for less than minimum wage.

    Let the Cartels go legit, like Vegas. For the touristas. If you think drug cartels are ruthless and violent, but you don’t think selling asbestos carcinogens like Mel Sembler/Liz&DickCheney Halliburton Inc, or Tom Delay and Souder poison sellers aren’t? Knowingly getting kids sick with pesticides throughout the bible belt. Then what is left, can’t keep kicking dead horses. These drug worrier generals and czars are taking up valuable space and funds. Time to cease and insist on cease.

    Leaking nukes are aparently legal, cleaned up by prohibited Hemp. Nukes spare parts made by GE/CBS, 3MileIs/DisneyABC and Viacom/Westinghouse/NBC nuke componant mfging. Depleted uranium in trumped up Oil Wars finding as many pregnent women as Monsanto bringing “things” to life in Iowa.

    How soon we forget the Union Carbide pesticide plant in the Indian city of Bhopal, Dow and Kloglog spraying op rescue anti choice lou dobbs isolationists and Latino field workers. Lies about Ganja and Hemp. Forcing deadly white powders and flatop mountains, extracting bits of coal for quick profits. Leaving them the people with mudslides and dead streams. Some of the poorest regions in the country and soil just waiting for Hemp to save the mole people. All we are saying is Give Peace a Chance. When the people lead, the leaders will follow. Like the man said…

    “Make the most you can of the Indian Hemp seed
    and sow it everywhere.”

    – George Washington,
    U.S. President quote on Hemp

    DEA Judge Young (USA), after careful consideration of many testimonials and reports, concluded that cannabis is less dangerous than most of the vegetables that we eat today. Everything can be dangerous – in water one can drown, in air fires can spread rapidly, excessive sunshine burns, excessive food bloats, sporting and leisure activities are often dangerous. THE GREATEST DANGERS OF CANNABIS ARE THE DANGERS OF ARREST, OF LACK OF QUALITY CONTROL, AND OF THE SUPPLY BEING MIXED WITH THAT OF DRUGS.

    Eradicated Marijuana Is 98 Percent Ditchweed

    More than 98 percent of all of the marijuana plants seized by law enforcement in the United States is feral hemp not cultivated cannabis…

    Of the estimated 223 million marijuana plants destroyed by law enforcement in 2005, approximately 219 million were classified as “ditchweed,” a term the agency uses to define “wild, scattered marijuana plants [with] no evidence of planting, fertilizing, or tending.” Unlike cultivated marijuana, feral hemp contains virtually no detectable levels of THC, the psychoactive component in cannabis, and does not contribute to the black market marijuana trade…

  19. I think the incremental approach may soften up some people’s perception of the whole thing, but it isn’t really a necessary or sufficient reason for ending prohibition.

    I may well be a dead end, and it certainly will be a dead end if we don’t follow Brian Bennett’s advice and up the stakes, lift it to some higher purpose. We mustn’t reduce all of this to a simple question of efficacy.

    Surely some people have been moved by medical marijuana, and it’s easy to get enamored by one’s own hypothesis if we do the human thing and look for affirmation. In the Popper spirit, though, I offer these counter-points:

    Medicine that didn’t do anything to prohibition:

    – Cannabis was once a medicine
    – Opium was once a medicine
    – Morphine is a medicine
    – Heroin was a medicine and still is in some places (diamorphine)
    – Amphetamines, including meth, were once medicines
    – Methaqualone was once a medicine
    – MDMA was once used therapeutically, but never made it into
    – Codeine is a medicine
    – Ritalin is a medicine
    – Cocaine is still used in some European countries during (ironically) nose surgery because it numbs and stops bleeding

    The MJ only “soft drug” crowd problem and other political stuff:

    – Holland decriminalizes cannabis in 1976, yet ever since there has ONLY been setback: raised age requirement, dwindling number of coffee shops

    – Even legal alcohol has only experienced a tightening grip with increased age requirement, outlawing of even designated driver programs, zero tolerance, etc.

    – Tobacco smoking, while legal, has only experienced setbacks, healthier tobacco products have been attempted banned or industry has been forced to not market various of these attributes.

    So what the point? Well, this is actually a big thing we’re right in the middle of. This isn’t just happening in the USA, but only across quite a few European nations. Even companies are in the thrall of this governance or management philosophy: view everything as possible to solve top-down via algorithmic laws using simple punishment and surveillance to accomplish all goals. It’s like an economic management metaphor where only the bean counters have prevailed and pretty much ALL modern management techniques are considered “liberal” or “soft”.

    One 9/11 later and we’re embracing fascism out of sheer fear and terror. It’s either run or lob off head of enemy. Simple violence metaphors guide us.

  20. ItsMeDave says:

    In the war of hearts and minds, incrementalism is but one approach that works with some people. Other people respond to other approaches. ALL non-violent, non-fraudulent approaches together are needed and have been instrumental in any progress that has come or will come. I say that because some people will respond to terrorism, as we see. Anti-prohibitionists are smarter and more considerate than that luckily.

    This is war and incrementalism is one front. You still need to drop paratroppers behind enemy lines. You still need spies. You still need bombing runs. You need it all.

    The one thing I completely disagree with in the incrementalist approach that Al doesn’t expand on, is that they are still funding and giving power to the drug warriors politically instead of cutting all ties with the enemy. At this point, there is no reason to continue supporting drug warriors in hopes they will change their mind. We know that doesn’t work.

  21. kaptinemo says:

    “The one thing I completely disagree with in the incrementalist approach that Al doesn’t expand on, is that they are still funding and giving power to the drug warriors politically instead of cutting all ties with the enemy. At this point, there is no reason to continue supporting drug warriors in hopes they will change their mind. We know that doesn’t work.”

    And the problem with that is that so long as the ONDCP is authorized to use taxpayer dollars to lie to the American people, and use those taxpayer dollars to jet around the country to stir up mischief legislatively when the matter comes to a vote, we will still be behind the 8-ball, and incrementalism plays into the hands of those who benefit from that situation. Otherwise, this issue would have been settled long ago.

  22. ItsMeDave says:

    Thats kind of what I’m getting at. Sure, give one guy the power of your vote because he says he’s less strict on medical marijuana, meanwhile he rachets up the drug war all over the world and keeps on sending out his Drug Czar with new lies. While giving the drug warriors the power to be less strict on mmj they are also giving them the power to continue locking up everyone else. That is a losing cause.

    The drug war will end when people that want to end the drug war actually start voting like it instead of making excuses for their vote to lock human beings in cages. How many state and federal districts are there where a majority of voters would support cannabis re-legalization, for an example? And how many legislators have introduced or signed onto legislation that would re-legalize? We are holding ourselves back when we chicken out in the voting booths and only giving them more power to fight back harder against us.

    • Pete says:

      ItsMeDave — it may very well be true that there are areas where a majority of voters would support cannabis re-legalization, but your notion of somehow getting them all to vote for a third party candidate (if that’s the only one pushing for true drug policy reform) pre-supposes that cannabis re-legalization is their only priority issue (or at least a top priority). Unfortunately, the fact is that very few people list marijuana policy reform as their top issue, so while they’re happier if the candidate supports reform, their voting decision may well be based on other factors (taxes, health care, abortion, terrorism, etc.).

  23. I agree with Brian.

    Drug policy reform groups (save LEAP) have been telling us for years that the American public is not ready for the repeal of drug prohibition – hence their reliance upon the incremental approach. But by not making the argument for repealing drug prohibition, reform leaders have turned their (incorrect) assessment of the American public into a self-deluding prophecy.

    And a good argument exists – one I’ve been making for some time now – that the incremental approach works against the repeal of drug prohibition.

    iDub’s rhetorical question is right on the money.

  24. ItsMeDave says:

    Candidates in favor of relegalization can also have positions on other issues like healthcare, taxes, education, etc and even have those issues as higher priorities while still opposing the drug war. They can also run in the Republican and Democratic primaries and as independents. A lot of suppositions pointing out one of mine.

    There isn’t someone out there to run in the Dems primary that thinks exactly the same as Obama on every other issue except that they are sick of the drug war? That is where the leadership of the movement is failing. But even when there are third party choices on the ballot the drug war is intertwined with just about every other issue you think is a higher priority for you.

    And lets talk about priorities and the power of our vote. Is there a higher priority than ending the practice of locking human beings in cages that have harmed no one else? Sure, there are immediate life and death issues. But not many. And I would argue they are an equal priority anyway. Life and liberty.

    I think the Civil Rights movement is a good example for us. Incrementalism happened from the Civil War until the 1950s. Voters finally said no more racists, and blacks started taking, getting, and using the power of their votes. Before then, it wasn’t the highest priority.

    First, one person said they would never support another racist no matter what they thought on other issues. That first person said this issue can be compromised on no more. Then more people joined that first, saying no more votes for racists. One voter at a time stopped voting for racists. Then one person said vote for me, I am not a racist, and eventually one of them won. Then more candidates said the same and they won.

    In the south, blacks organized their own local Democratic parties separate from the racist Democratic Party in place then. They beat them in some areas, they took over the party in other areas, the ran as independents and Republicans, and third parties as well. They made sure there were non-racists on the ballot and they refused to support anyone that was.

    Incrementalist leaders in our movement don’t seem to think that is important, yet that was the winning strategy in my opinion. You had to go from one person saying no more racists mo matter what their other stances on issues are to the point of the majority saying no more racists.

    Locking a black person in a cage because she doesn’t sit in the back of the bus with the other blacks is of the same priority level to me as locking a black person in a cage because she eats a pot brownie to relieve glaucoma or just because she enjoys it.

    Why isn’t it of equal importance as everything else? Isn’t it time we decided it is of equal importance and did something about it? Like they finally did in the 1950s with stupid, minority oppressing, segregation laws? They finally said no more.

    Like the civil rights movement, we need a majority of voters saying absolutely no more votes for drug warriors if we want to win. Saying the drug war shouldn’t be important enough to influence, let alone decide, your vote is a losing strategy. They stopped voting for racists and made sure they didn’t have to and we need to do the same thing with drug warriors. The faster the better.

  25. ItsMeDave says:

    And completely lost in that verbal masturbation is where the line is drawn. That is a harder comparison to civil rights. It wasn’t illegal to be black, it was illegal to sit somewhere not reserved for you etc. It was an action or behavior they did that caused arrest and the loss of liberty. Like taking a drug is a behavior that causes arrest.

    So are medical marijuana, reduced cannabis possession sentences, and less tough anti-drug propaganda like segregation and separate but equal? Yes. And they are effective incremental tools with success that resulted in the less life and liberty being loss from the Civil War to Civil Rights. They provided avenues for others to get on board.

    But what are others jumping on board to in our movement? Saying no more drug warriors. That’s my point. Not to diminish efforts that got us incremental mmj and some reduced penalty referendums, and all the debate and publicity because those winning battles are vital to the war. But the end goal is getting enough people on board that will refuse to support drug warriors. I realize that means having candidates just as good on other issues but I pre-suppose there are and will be candidates like that instead of the opposite. I know there won’t be any candidates like that until more people demand it and refuse to compromise, with the civil rights movement as my guide. That is the winning strategy.

    The movement’s goal is a majority of voters refusing to vote for drug warriors. At some point, all the leaders in the movement will have to realize that in order for us to win the drug war.

    “I’m sorry I can’t vote for you if you support the drug war.” When we have a majority saying that we will win. Its harder to get to that point when our movement leaders are still saying you can get off board the movement with us if a candidate still supports the drug war and only says its not a good idea to use resources to go after mmj patients in states that say its ok. We need a majority staying on board until the candidate says no more drug war.

  26. ItsMeDave says:

    And I don’t mean to imply that appeasing drug warriors now means someone is a racist or some equivalent. Just because someone back then kept voting for candidates that maintained segregation didn’t mean they personally thought blacks and whites and others aren’t and shouldn’t be equal. They weren’t automatically racists. They just didn’t think the issue was important enough to influence their vote.

    When it became important enough, we saw change. That’s the distinction I’m trying to make, not that people that vote for drug warrior politicians are like racists.

    And that in the long run our movement leaders are going to have to stay on board the movement at every election, and with every vote on candidates that will end the drug war if we want to win. We will never win if everyone gets off board the movement at the feet of candidates exactly like Barack Obama or John McCain or tens of thousands of others.

  27. Wendy says:

    Does anyone remember something liquid fifty years ago called, “paragoric?”

    I think it was an illegal ‘opium’ of sorts to soothe a baby’s teething.

    I will try to research it myself. Thanks.

  28. Wendy says:

    DdC – WOW phyto-remediative plant (hemp) helped clean up

    Chernobyl…..(underline) cleaned up by prohibited


  29. Wendy says: why do they eradicate the (98%) ditchweed?

  30. DdC says:

    Hi Wendy,

    Early 70’s we tried soaking cigarettes in Paragoric but all we got were soggy cigarettes. It had tincture of opium. Parents used to give it for diareaha if memory serves.

    phyto-remediative Hemp plants could clean up all the chemical hazards on all of the Military bases too.

    Clinton’s drug thug McCaffrey used to try all sorts of draconian silliness. He busted 17 truckloads of birdseed going to US pet shops for 60 years. A true idiot. But since Nixon’s illegal immoral unethical Controlled Substance Act lumped Hemp and RXGanja into the mix of reefer madness, they figured statistically it was all the same. So, like busting users driving up arrests to more than Nixon, Reagan and Bush! combined. He created bigger numbers of “marijuana eradications” lumping in wild unkept ditchweed. So to the public and radical right wing drug thugs, he showed how he was saveding the kids from drugs. While Boosh eradicated thousands of “Ganja” plants Clintons numbers rose into the hundreds of millions. 98% of the eradicated plants were burlap and canvas. But numbers looked good. Still continues and real citizens are doing hard time for having these non psychoactive plants in their possession. At least they could let the unemployed process it into clothing.
    Be well

  31. Wendy says:

    Thanks..very interesting facts indeed..I have never voted but I sure would like to see some of Your’s and Other’s (sincerely) Genius to become elected into office someday.

    I wish everyone in prison for burlap and canvas could be released (yesterday).

  32. Wendy says:

    My Dad, ‘o rest His soul, grew some in 1980 as the Curious Little Farmer He was.

    My brother gave him some seeds and what else is a farmer to do with ’em anyway.

    Since it came up behind the barn and as I remember it being a few dozens twelve-foot tall plants…we nick-named it ‘chicken-shit gold’!

    And yes, Dad thought it should become legal too!

  33. Wendy says:

    p.s. DdC..I sent this to Lady Governor Lingle in Hawaii yesterday..your facts on a phyto-remidiative plant. Thanks.

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