Failing to understand political capital

I’m one who tends to be pretty open about the fact that different reform groups have different agendas and viewpoints and that’s OK. I rarely chastise a group or leader merely because I differ with their views or strategy.

I am, however, quite surprised and displeased with the quotes from Allen St. Pierre from NORML in this article. If accurate, they don’t serve St. Pierre or NORML (or any of us) very well.

Allen St. Pierre, executive director for NORML, which seeks to reform marijuana laws, says the president might have political as well as legal motivations for reversing his initial position on medical marijuana. St. Pierre argues that current laws prohibit the Obama administration from turning a blind eye to state’s medical marijuana legalization.

“In essence, the administration is sort of hamstrung,” St. Pierre says.

Most definitely not true. The original Holder memo was correct. The government does have significant discretion in how it uses its funds to enforce laws. And it could still enforce current laws without going out of its way to intimidate medical marijuana operations in the states.

The Obama administration has not been just doing what’s necessary. It’s been taking an active role in escalating the crackdown.

St. Pierre says letting states regulate marijuana as they please would burn up a lot of the president’s political capital, adding that Obama has to take action or he risks earning a reputation in 2012 election as soft on drugs.

I don’t think Obama has a chance in hell of being perceived as soft on anything. This is the guy who claims the power to assassinate American citizens with no judicial review. Even Bush wouldn’t go that far.

There may be political capital involved in the medical marijuana decisions, but it’s the definition of “capital” that means “cash,” not the implied “capital” meaning political will and votes.

It appears, unfortunately, that Allen is speaking as a supporter of candidate Obama and/or the Democratic Party, rather than in his role as executive director of NORML.

If Allen is reading this, I’d love to hear what he was thinking.

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61 Responses to Failing to understand political capital

  1. Dante says:

    In politics, when people do things that seem completely the opposite of what you would expect based upon their history – follow the money. Politicians do what they do for money/power/fame. Nothing else matters to them, no matter how eloquently phrased.

    Perhaps Mr. St. Pierre is getting into politics. We already know the story with Obama.

    • Windy says:

      Yes, finally! I’ve been saying for a long time that the Constitution clearly lays out that the the fed gov is subservient to the States and the People, the 9th and 10th Amendments reinforce the body of the Constitution’s position on that. About damn time the SCOTUS made it clear to the States (which have become so afraid to stand up to the fed gov), the fed gov (which has acted like a bully to the States and the People), and to the all too ignorant (thanks to our form of schooling) and ill-informed (thanks to the lapdog mainstream media) populace. The States must now realize this applies to EVERYTHING, not just the States’ medical marijuana laws.

      U.S. Supreme Court: State Medical Marijuana Laws Not Preempted by Federal Law | The Daily Chronic
      “It’s now settled that state law enforcement officers cannot arrest medical marijuana patients or seize their medicine simply because they prefer the contrary federal law,” said Joe Elford, Chief Counsel with Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the medical marijuana advocacy organization that represented the defendant Felix Kha in a case that the City of Garden Grove appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. “Perhaps, in the future local government will think twice about expending significant time and resources to defy a law that is overwhelmingly supported by the people of our state.”

  2. Metabaron says:

    I find this development particularly funny as the whole medical cannabis jurisdiction came from referendi,as far as I know.

    Can anything be more antidemocratic, not to say fascist, than acting contrary to the will of the people?

    Maybe Obama sees himself like louis 14th., that would explain much. L’État, c’est moi!

  3. TrojanAlert! says:


  4. Tom Angell says:

    Even if it were true that supporting medical marijuana were somehow politically dangerous to politicians, it would be SO SO SO dumb as a political strategy for reformers who are trying to convince pols to do what we want to go around saying that. But more importantly: IT’S NOT TRUE! Medical marijuana is polling much higher than Barack Obama is!

  5. Dan Goldman says:

    I also think this sort of thinking falls prey to the fallacy of political capital thinking in DC. Unlike actual dollars and sense, it’s not something than can get used up, so much as it grows with the body politic thinking you’re finally getting something done. Using one’s political capital to pivot away from drug war orthodoxy wouldn’t endanger Obama, it would endear him to the middle that hates all politicians because they think no one ever does much that is different, especially when it comes to the Drug War.

    • darkcycle says:

      Uh…that’s what I was going to say. Since there’s no way in hell I could say it in seventy words, I’ll press the “like” button and go back to smoking hash.

  6. claygooding says:

    So much hinges on the meetings Sat in Colombia that could open or slam doors on different tacks that Obama could use to gain a lot of support before the vote,,just agreeing to debate drug reform in the UN by the entire body could shape a lot of avenues for Obama and others to throw up more smoke,,until after they are elected/re-elected and it’s full steam ahead again.

    I keep seeing his speech where he compared changing policies for America was like steering a huge ship,not a speedboat,,he twitched the wheel one time and look what happened.

  7. Randy says:

    Obama knows he’s pissed all over the drug law reformers that supported his election in 2008. He gave them hope, but the change he has overseen is in the wrong direction. So now his operatives are trying to persuade the drug law reformers that Obama is still their man. Evidently Mr. St. Pierre is ready to buy the BS the White House is selling here.

    You nailed it, Pete. Mr. St. Pierre sounds like a partisan Democrat making exuses for his standard bearer’s poor MMJ performance rather than the Exec. Dir. of a group advocating the reform of MJ laws.

  8. I hate to keep repeating this, but once more for the assembled: NORML believes you and I should be able to smoke a joint without fear of arrest, but continues to support legal sanctions against those possessing quantity. Just where does NORML think we get those joints – the pot fairie? No, we get them from folks with a few pounds stashed in their garage, risking their life and liberty so we can smoke our joints.

    Until NORML changes this stupid position – which St. Pierre promised me in 2006 to do – anyone who supports NORML, financially or otherwise, should be ashamed.

  9. ezrydn says:

    “I don’t know what that says about Mr. St. Pierre and his online community.” Paraphrased but he evidently forgot that one. That’s the moment Mr. O lost me!

  10. Cold Blooded says:

    Even if we got a sympathetic president, though, there is now a powerful bureaucracy that justifies its existence with the war on drugs. I’m sure there are plenty of things that they could do to mess with a president politically.

    • claygooding says:

      Any reform will require taking some of the wind out of the bureaucracies that depend on the drug war for their existence,or for some,at least most of their budgets are dependent on funding from ONDCP.

      He has had two excellent opportunities with Fast and furious and the DEA laundering cartel money.

      Selling 40 guns and tracking them to their destination is intelligence gathering,,selling thousands and not tracking them is gunrunning.,to the “enemy”.

      The same applies to DEA laundering cartel drug money and the amounts involved,,,way too much for intelligence and NO arrests or seizures.

      Not to mention they are going on 5 years in control of the largest opium producing valley of the world and are doing next to nothing to stop it,while convincing the rest of the world we are zero tolerance.

      Really an amazing feat when you think about it.

    • Randy says:

      I wish you were wrong, Cold Blooded, but you aren’t.

    • Windy says:

      Actually, since much of the drug war apparatus falls under the purview of the executive branch, there is much a “sympathetic president” (Ron Paul) could do. He can direct his AG to end all drug investigations and stop all prosecutions, setting the defendants free. He can disband the ONDCP and DEA and can even trashcan the CSA. Additionally, the president can pardon whomever he wishes, so a sitting president, such as Ron Paul, could pardon every non-violent drug offender in the federal prison system whether incarcerated or on parole.

      The fight then goes to the State level, and with 20 some States already having some kind of MMJ legalization either in action or on the books waiting for the fed gov to come around, full legalization isn’t going to be that difficult to attain in most States within a reasonable time.

  11. Francis says:

    “He doesn’t mean to hurt us. He really cares about us. I know he does. But you have to understand — he’s under an incredible amount of pressure. And he’s working so hard to give us all a better life. And he’s not like ordinary men. He’s a genius. But sometimes well, he loses control of his justice department. And we have these… unpleasant incidents. And really they’re our fault anyway for provoking him. I mean, it’s not fair for us to be constantly pestering him about legalization and respecting civil liberties with everything he has on his plate….”

  12. denbee says:

    I doubt very much that change will come from within, at least not for awhile. The law is sort of constructed like a catch 22, my hands are tied sort of enity. Change will come from more and more States demanding it and more and more people simply ignoring our government’s ridiculous law. There will come a day when the old guard, those who still believe in reefer madness, will be replaced by people of reason. Maybe someday it will all be reveiled, the real reason why our government refused to consider any softing of the law against pot. Why the need to lie and hoodwink us for over 70 years? Why the head in the sand response to science and medical evidence that suggested that indeed pot had many medicinal uses?

  13. Outlier says:

    I agree that he’s got the latitude to interpret it so we go back to the 2009 2010 hands off approach. He also could have not appointed a complete hack like Michele Leonhardt or rein her in now. I honestly don’t think even the most hardcore drug warriors would have much of a case against him if he went with “were stepping up enforcement on hard drugs and rerouting resources there way” so that political capital argument is BS.

    Really it comes down to lack of interest in the issue and lack of political downside. Until we organize sufficiently to the point where politicians are afraid of losing office over their stance on the war on drugs/medical marijuana etc we wont see the changes we want. We’ve waged an effective media campaign as evidenced by the quick rise in polling #s, but there just aren’t enough respectable activists. There also aren’t as many wealthy donors. If the mj legalization movement had donors like the gay rights movement does, marijuana would be legal and regulated in a handful of states.

  14. Pricknick says:

    You went against NORML?
    In this instance, you were right.

  15. Servetus says:

    Obama is one head of a big, fat, multi-headed serpent that reeks of fraud. Other serpent heads include U.S. attorneys like Melinda Haag, along with anyone else responsible for wasting the resources of the IRS and the U.S. Marshalls on pointless marijuana busts.

    A successful war strategy requires that no aspect of the opposition go unscathed. All fronts must be fought. Any advantage must be taken. Making it easier is the fact that the judicial system is rotted out from top to bottom, which makes its deconstruction simpler. Spotlighting Obama alone doesn’t put any heat on Attorney General Holder, or his Bush appointed U.S. attorneys. The ONDCP and DEA get their share of condemnation depending on what’s achieved by criticizing robots.

    We have police bureaucracies filled with people who do little more once each year than wield machetes and chop down pot plants. Where do people take a job skill like that if they’re unemployed? Sugar cane fields in Cuba? The working conditions in Cuba are likely to be far different from Humboldt.

    Where else but drug enforcement can losers find a job where there exists no realistic expectation of success, or future resolution?

    Perhaps the motto of today’s professional prohibitionist is: “You can take my job when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers! ” It’s easier to just defund their greedy little fingers.

  16. Benjamin says:

    You’re wrong Pete. This kind of rhetoric does serve in the sense that it’s designed to prevent us from drifting into worse waters under a Romney or Santorum presidency.

    To the people saying that the line about political capital in a wrong, the support of the public for legalization does not counter what’s obviously happening beyond the reach of the public, and I’m not just speaking on Big Pharma here, but the whole DC institution and beyond.

    I’m honestly more disappointed by these comments than I am by Mr. St. Pierre. It seems practically everywhere I go online these days all I’m seeing is “We don’t have what we want, let’s blame the president.” Maybe you all should blame yourselves first for not doing enough to get the message out.

    • allan says:

      Really? The Repubs are a threat? Really? I call BS. Romney is the Republicrat version of John Kerry… there is not a snowball’s chance. Did you watch the Republiclowns? Did you watch Obama in ’08? The cat is good. Mitt? Not so much. The man can’t even wear a pair of Levi’s, he wears designer “jeans” and looks like a rich feller and when he tries to act reg’lar he makes an ass out of hisself. Women don’t trust him, men only a tad less.

      And the fact remains, NObama is worse than GW was on drug policies. And he got Osama… that’s political capital.

      • Benjamin says:

        You call Romney the Republican John Kerry and have apparently forgotten how close the election was in 2004. Don’t forget how close 2008 was either, in spite of how terribly managed the McCain campaign was.

        The world was very different when GW was president than it is now, at least as far as drugs (and when we say “drug policies” we’re really talking about medical marijuana.) This is why the whole “Obama is worse on drugs than George W.” meme is ultimately nonsense.

        I’m from the most populous and notorious medical marijuana state and I saw first hand under George W. Bush that medical marijuana remained very much under the surface and hidden away from mainstream life. Now? Dispensaries are everywhere and the number of friends in my circle with medical cards has gone from none five years ago to about 7 out of 10.

        • allan says:

          mmm… yes, the election was close in 2004… but… had John Kerry shown some intestinal fortitude he would have been on the winning side of “close.”

          There are many here that were part of a constant stream of advocacy on JK’s wwwebsite which was in a bulletin board type format. And when I say constant I mean a flood. We kept drug policy at the top of “most popular” topics, remained calm and presented every bit of fact and common sense we could muster.

          And we were ignored (a repeating theme w/ Mr Obama).

          And no, the world was hardly different then than now. The world was very different 50 years ago.

          Playing pussyfoot politics gives us squat. And the Dems really, really need to disconnect from the 1% IV they’re hooked up to and get a spine. They play both sides better than the Repubs but…

          I contend that rather than playing nicer, dpr types have to elevate their actions similar to the environmental and anti-nuke protests of earlier days. (And it was nice to see that Dan Ellsberg was arrested at the end of Feb in a non-violent act of civil disobedience at a protest at Vandenberg AFB – my old stomping grounds – on CA’s central coast).

          And if in your circle of friends you’ve gone from having 0 friends w/ med cards to 7 of 10 it only indicates to me that you’re young and has nothing at all to do w/ “the times.”

      • Benjamin C. says:


        And if in your circle of friends you’ve gone from having 0 friends w/ med cards to 7 of 10 it only indicates to me that you’re young and has nothing at all to do w/ “the times.”</blockquote

        I'm in my 30's. Five years ago there were zero dispensaries in my hometown. The nearest one was an hour's drive away. Nobody had medical cards because it wasn't deemed practical. A quick glance over at thcfinder puts the current dispensary count there at around 35. So yes, it has quite a bit to do with the times, and my hometown is not unique in being newly inducted into the ranks of the medical marijuana tolerant in just the last couple of years.

        • Jeff Trigg says:

          If the times are different now than they were under Bush, then they are different in that it is EASIER to publicly support medical cannabis now than it was under Bush. So if the times say it is easier now to support cannabis, why is Obama worse than Bush on this issue? It is absolutely NOT complete nonsense to point out the fact that Obama is indeed worse than Bush.

          All those new dispensaries you brag about are the result of Bush largely leaving them alone. Obama comes along and starts putting wheel-chair bound cannabis activists in line for a concrete cage. On this issue, there is absolutely no defense of Obama. A vote for Obama is a vote to lock Richard Lee in a cage, along with the millions of human beings who have done nothing wrong. That is evil, and people need to stop voting for evil.

        • Benjamin C. says:

          Jeff Trigg:

          If the times are different now than they were under Bush, then they are different in that it is EASIER to publicly support medical cannabis now than it was under Bush. So if the times say it is easier now to support cannabis, why is Obama worse than Bush on this issue? It is absolutely NOT complete nonsense to point out the fact that Obama is indeed worse than Bush.

          I’ve already made the case the “Obama is worse than Bush” to be a subjective statement. What I’m more interested in responding to this this:

          All those new dispensaries you brag about are the result of Bush largely leaving them alone.

          You are absolutely missing my point. Obviously I could make the easy case which is that these dispensaries were not even authorized, and didn’t even open until two years, making it difficult to say that they’re there because “Bush left them alone.”

          My point, however, is not *who* made this possible. I’m saying the world has changed in this short amount of time. I’m not placing credit for that with any body, I’m simply pointing that out, since most of the people here seem to have forgotten how medical marijuana was regarded by mainstream America only a few years ago.

          But the bigger issue here is that I am not “bragging,” and again, for the nth time, this is not a defense of President Obama. This is a call to the legalization movement to take a more nuanced approach that goes beyond the very fundamentalist, WE GOOD OBAMA BAD circle-jerking that the online community has devolved into over the past few years.

          The amount of downvotes my original comment has received is quite telling: “You are with us or against us. You will toe the party line or else.” I certainly haven’t used any less tact than anybody else here to get my message across, but the readers of Drug WarRant have made it clear that my view is not welcome.

          That is evil, and people need to stop voting for evil.

          And that is fundamentalism. Good vs. Evil. The world is not black and white, and we are not the Tea Party.

        • christy says:

          If Pat Robertson can come out for legalization of marijuana on the Christian Broadcasting Network, what’s the hold up with Obama? He (or morely likely his Super PAC) has received special interest money under the table from groups that don’t want to see it legalized and that’s all there is to it.

        • Jeff Trigg says:

          Benjamin – “And that is fundamentalism. Good vs. Evil. The world is not black and white, and we are not the Tea Party.”

          Cool, you might be getting it finally. Yes it is fundamentalism. (Tea Party? from left field?) Barack Obama fundamentally believes in holding a government gun to my head and locking me in a cage for doing something he did himself. Is Obama’s position any less fundamental, or black and white, than mine (ours)? Are you going to tell the millions locked up for cannabis that it is a gray area and we should give Obama some slack because it all isn’t black or white? Either you are a born free human being, or you are not. Black or white or other euphemism. Choose sides. Obama’s side uses government guns and cages to declare that cannabis is evil and to violently enforce Obama’s fundamental belief that cannabis is evil. That is barbaric to me.

          I know I can be the worlds biggest douche bag, and that we are on the same side with this issue. My history with Obama goes deeper than I can describe. Maybe I should write book. How Obama was late to an IL Senate committee vote on whether to let Bush ignore an election deadline in Illinois, because he out having a cigarette. And how I know that. And what side of the Bush vote I was on. And what I did to cause that vote. And what side SoS Jesse White was on, who was indicted Rep. Derrick Smith’s clout. And…. don’t get me started. Obama is evil enough not to be trusted with the power he has. IL Senate was tolerable, but this is ridiculous. Be careful who you bum cigarettes to.

    • darkcycle says:

      The message is out there, all across the internet in letters nine feet high. Even major MSM outlets like the Seattle Times have called for legalization. What planet do YOU live on? Every open forum for questions this president has had since is election, the number one has been legalization. The President has the power to call off the justice department, he hasn’t. He can reschedule, he hasn’t. In fact, he hasn’t even addressed this issue without condescending once.
      I’ve looked at Romney’s record, and if there’s a single substantive difference, it eludes me. And it isn’t just the legalization issue, on every single substantive issue I care about, Obama has gone the opposite way. I plan to hold him responsible, and since a GOP vote is out of the question for me, I’ll vote third party. Just so happens there is third party candidate out there with marijuana legalization on his platform. Gary Johnson, libertarian. Well howdy-do, what do you think of that. So here’s your chance to vote for a candidate who says it, out loud. Watchagonnado? Give your vote to the traitor who has already back stabbed you?

      • Benjamin says:

        The president may have the power to call off the Justice department on paper, but we live in the real world where things are not so simple.

        I really do wish that there was less of this attitude online of people saying “I’m fed up with Obama so I’m going to vote third party.” This does nothing other than give you a small release for some of that pent up frustration you have, when you could be finding something more useful to do with that anger than casting a symbolic vote that will ultimately go nowhere.

        The undesirability of Romney comes not from him the person, but from his base.

        I’m a realist and I’m already operating on a plan that involves another 4.5 years under Obama. I usually stay out of discussions such as this one because they don’t advance the issue; they just provide a place for frustrated pro-legalizers to do little more than wallow and reinforce their statuses as victims. I expected better from Drug WarRant.

        Really, I’m not concerned with presidential votes at all. It’s a distraction. I’m focused on the upcoming legalization measures in Washington and Colorado, and after that, the continued shaming of President Obama in the public sphere for his unwillingness to take a stance on this issue. Obama should be made into an example. When life gives you lemons…

        • darkcycle says:

          “The president may have the power to call off the Justice department on paper, but we live in the real world where things are not so simple.” Where were you during Bush the lesser? This is the age of the imperial presidency. He can order the extrajudicial killing of US citizens. He can order the indefinite detentions of same. He can take this country to war without even telling Congress. He can with a signing statement alter or exempt himself from laws already passed by congress. He can do anything the hell he WANTS.
          And, while we’re on the topic, fuck you. Don’t presume to know why I cast my vote. And my vote for whatever party is no less or more symbolic than your vote for the Obushma. This is a representative republic not a democracy. The electoral college will decide it and they will be pulled from the ranks of the party faithful. Your vote is piss ass worthless regardless of whether you vote for Obushma or mickey fucking mouse. So if I’m stuck with a symbolic vote, I’m gonna waste it on a guy whose policies I support. Take your condescension for a hike.

        • darkcycle says:

          Oh, I’m gonna take issue with one more flaw in your reasoning: “I’m from the most populous and notorious medical marijuana state and I saw first hand under George W. Bush that medical marijuana remained very much under the surface and hidden away from mainstream life. Now? Dispensaries are everywhere and the number of friends in my circle with medical cards has gone from none five years ago to about 7 out of 10.”
          You are giving that credit to OBAMA? ARE YOU SERIOUSLY THINKING THAT WAS HIM???
          That credit goes to us in the movement. We finally get a set and begin moving forward despite the atmosphere and you give that credit to OBUSHMA? May I remind you that less than two weeks after he took office, the raids started? Man, you need you some glasses.

      • Benjamin says:

        In reply to your last message, the president can do whatever he wants so long as the proper back-avenues are open to him. You have to realize that a lot of people in Washington are very interested in keeping marijuana illegal for various reasons. So calling off the Justice Department ends up being more difficult to do than invading Iraq, because there’s more opposition both on paper and off.

        Also, calm down, I didn’t presume to know why you’re casting your own vote other than through what you’ve told me.

        “Your vote is piss ass worthless regardless of whether you vote for Obushma or mickey fucking mouse.”

        Yes, I agree. You’ll note that nowhere have I said I myself was casting a vote for Obama, only that I accept his inevitable reelection and that grandstanding about who your presidential vote is going to on a board such as this is distracting us from the real issues at hand. Good day.

      • Benjamin says:

        “You are giving that credit to OBAMA? ARE YOU SERIOUSLY THINKING THAT WAS HIM???”

        No. I never gave that to Obama. Somebody *could* turn it around and say “see, Obama is actually BETTER on medicial marijuana.” I think Andrew Sullivan took a position similar to that recently. I am not doing that. In fact I said the whole thing was meaningless, meaning nothing useful, PRObama or NObama, can be taken from it.

        My point is that people like to throw around, for example, “X number of dispensaries have been raided under Obama while only Y number were raided under GWB.” But this ignores that there have been MANY MANY more dispensaries that have come and gone under Obama than there ever were under under Bush.

        If anybody can actually find some statistics that paint this particular example in terms of percentages rather than the raw number of raids I’d like to see them. I’ve looked several times over the last year to no avail.

        • fixitman says:

          you are the incarnation of what darkcycle has pointed out many times in this forum. you want to defend the president because he is on your “team”. I don’t give rats ass wether you like the D’s or the R’s, defending the policies of your team when they aren’t in your own best interest or the best interest of the nation is just plain stupid. I voted for Mr. Obama in ’08 but there isn’t a chance in hell that I’m going to do it again. I liked candidate Obama. President Obama on the other hand talks a good game but, his policies are bad for me and worse for this country.

  17. I would think by this point that politicians would not fear being soft on drugs but fear being FOR “the war on drugs”.

    Fearing the voters is obviously not what motivates Washington action on drugs, since more voters are for legalization than against.

    There is no excuse for Obama not sticking to his 2008 statement “I think the basic concept of using medical marijuana for the same purposes and with the same controls as other drugs prescribed by doctors, I think that’s entirely appropriate,” “I’m not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue.”

    I don’t think there is any reason Allen St. Pierre should help to make excuses for him (Obama).

    Pete, you are right.

  18. Dano says:

    Major policies like the prohibition of marijuana don’t get changed without extreme pressure from the populace. When there pressure is building that’s when you add more heat to the fire, of course strategically.

    St Pierre likely wanted to avoid a statements that would cost Obama votes, but he should still keep the pressure on the president to deal with this issue. Making excuses for the president isn’t what he’s supposed to be doing.

    Every president is too busy to deal with the real issues of the drug war, so it’s the job of NORML to get them to make the time. It’s our job to push our representatives, local and national, so the president has the political backing for policy change.

    More and more people are coming around to at least think about these issues, the tide is slowly turning…

  19. Cannabis says:

    Curiously absent from discussions about drug policy are two names. Oh, yes, we love to blame or defend President Obama, as we should as the buck supposedly stops with him, but rarely do we hear the names of DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart or Vice President Joe Biden, both of whom have deep connections to our ongoing drug wars. Why are their names so rarely connected to this mess in the media and by us as well?

    • Peter says:

      Biden and Leonhart’s names have been regularly connected with the wosd on this site, even if the mainstream have media have been less persistent.

    • Duncan20903 says:

      Who’s Ms. Leonhart’s and Mr. Biden’s boss again? I forget…

  20. Peter says:

    The publicity of the Trayvon Martin case has aroused media interest in the killing of 68 year old ex-marine, Kenneth Chamberlain in NY state(the second ex-marine to be shot in this way, this year, see Jose Guerina).
    This has many of the hallmarks of a drugs SWAT raid including mechanical tools used to remove the door, racial abuse, use of “non-lethal” weapons followed by the fatal shooting. Once again, “self-defense” is used as the justification. This happened back in November and was nearly covered up until the public outcry over Trayvon’s shooting brought similar incidents to light.
    The ultimate irony is that police were only called because his personal health alarm went off accidentally.

    • Randy says:

      Revelations of abusive officers and tactics these past few years via the web are now being noticed by wider audiences. Many are making the connection between drug law enforcement and the shitty actions and attitudes of LEO’s. So ironically, these videos of LEOs “working on the side of the angels” in the WOD are slowly eroding public support for the WOD. Unfortunately we are likely to see many more videos of human beings suffering under WOD enforcement before the abuse finally stops.

  21. Benjamin says:

    So am I correct in understanding that the format here only allows for comment trees of up to three replies to the original message? I’ve commented here before but not in this capacity. I want to address one final remark directed at me by fixitman who said:

    you are the incarnation of what darkcycle has pointed out many times in this forum. you want to defend the president because he is on your “team”.

    I don’t think me believing Obama to be the lesser of two evils makes me a part of his team, and comments like this and the attitude that births them are a big problem right now. There’s a very pervasive “You’re either with us or against” attitude in the legalization movement right now that is hurting our standing with moderates, and is grossly reminiscent of the Right Wing in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq.

    My viewpoint here is that maybe Obama getting reelected won’t be so bad and maybe there are better things we should be focusing our energies on debating. I don’t think this is a very radical position, but time and time again I’m called a shill and things worse. I suppose it *is* easier to cast nuance aside and just blame the president for our problems.

    I’m not telling anybody to vote for Obama, and if I haven’t made it clear enough already, *I’M* not voting for Obama. I’m not on his team. Do I think Democrats are better for our cause than Republicans? I think Democrat VOTERS our better for our cause, and if we are going to continue winning them over, we’d be wise to take a more nuanced approach to this issue that goes deeper than NOBAMA = BAD.

    • Pete says:

      Benjamin – yes, the system currently allows threading up to three levels, I believe. It’s not unlimited, so as to prevent eventual tinier and tinier width of comments.

      Generally, if you wish to respond to someone already on the furthest indented option, you can back up to the one they responded to and also respond to that. That will put your comment after the one you’re discussing and keep it close for discussion purposes.

      or you can do it this way. Either is fine.

    • darkcycle says:

      IIRC, I have never attempted to tell another person how to vote. And I have never suggested “Yer either fer us or agin us”. I have related the REASONS I will not vote for Obama, my current voting plans (already farther than I would ordinarily go in discussion) and I have defended my decisions when challenged. In each case, I have provided SOME of the reasons I won’t vote for him, not all. This is site is specific to the drug war, but my issues with the policies of this President go way beyond anything I’ve shared here.
      If you see the expression of my issues with Obushma as trying to influence your vote, I’m sorry. I fully expect that everybody here will vote his or her conscience as they see it. And I have more confidence in the voters on this site than I do in the general public, to be sure. But I will take issue with anybody who tries to soft peddle his record on this issue. The excuse “his hands were tied” doesn’t fly when I can see he’s picking his nose with one hand and flipping me off with the other.

      • Duncan20903 says:


        Sharing your conscience can most certainly inspire others to get in touch with theirs.

        I still think making the mechanics of the electoral college can also inspire others to discard a belief that a vote for X is actually a vote for Y and further aid people to come to the understanding that voting for the candidate that they actually prefer is voting their conscience.

        Perhaps I’m wrong and everyone reading this knows that my voting for Bob Barr in 2008 was not a vote for Mr. McCain. Not in any way, shape, or form. I vote in Maryland and in 2008 Mr. Obama had this State’s electoral votes sewed up. While subsequent events make me regret voting Libertarian none of us can see the future. In Florida in Y2K voting for anyone other than Mr. Gore was the mistake that so many voters fear presuming that at the time you were a Floridian voter that wanted Mr. Bush to lose that election. But in every other State in 2000 and in every other election of which I’m aware, who you voted for made no difference unless it sent a message to whoever won. Winning by 500,000 or 500,001 made no difference. Seeing a 3rd party candidate take 10% of the vote nationwide would most certainly make a difference.
        There are people in our community in Oregon working to defeat an unfriendly candidate for State AG. The true election is going to be the Democratic primary because the candidate that makes the ballot will be running unopposed. I certainly hope that they succeed because it would do a heckuva lot more for our society than simply getting one friendly candidate into State office. If they can pull it off it makes their endorsement or at least finding them to have a lack of interest valuable to future candidates. The more I learn about Oregonians the more that I’m impressed with that State’s body politic. I had a chance to move there in 1990 and declined and those people don’t do anything to help me think that decision wasn’t a mistake.

        • allan says:

          1990 was when I moved back to the NW from a CA I was beginning to detest. My first job in 1990 paid $800/mo. But I had a bitchin’ 2 story cabin, we lived off the grid, used wood heat, 3 miles in behind a locked gate, generated our own electricity w/ a hydro system that provided 25K watts of power. And I lived in a place called Jawbone Flats. Oh… the living in the middle of an ancient temperate rain forest wasn’t too shabbu either. When my then father-in-law came to visit he was able to do what he’d never done in his whole life in Michigan… he drank right out of a fresh, crystal clear mountain stream.

          A great re-introduction to the region in which I was born… I’d live in CA again in a heart beat, if everybody else moved out.

        • darkcycle says:

          The Northwest captured me (no other way to put it) in 1982. I have lived all over, Cali, the Midwest, East Coast, but on the day I was supposed to leave here (after my first visit), I decided there wasn’t enough back where I was going to make me return. So I stayed. And I have never, not once, in thirty years, regretted that decision.

        • Windy says:

          I was born and raised in the PNW, and lived here most of my adult life. Hubby and I lived in MD for a year and a half while Eastalco was being built (hubby worked for Bechtel in the construction division) and had the opportunity to go to an island (can’t recall the name, now, that was back in 1970) off the north coast of Australia or to Corpus Christi, TX with Bechtel, but we were both homesick so we came home and hubby went to work for another large corporate construction company, and later for a smaller, local company from which he retired after 38 years with them. But I wish I’d been born and raised in warmer drier climes, I hate the days on end of rain, and I hate the winter with its oh so short days of wet, dreary grey. Summer here can be so awesomely beautiful, but winter is ugly and unpleasant, fall only slightly less so than winter, and spring is so damn wet and cold. I cannot move away because my life, family and friends are here, but I often wish I could.

        • darkcycle says:

          I like all of it, myself, there’s a special feel to a northwest winter. Cedar smoke and fog. I just love it. Did I mention that lovely visit that I couldn’t leave from was over new years, ’81-’82?

  22. primus says:

    There is no substantive difference between the two major parties in any country. Witness Canada, where nothing changes under either party, same as in the US. To vote for either major party is to support the status quo. Every vote is a message to the pols. If you vote ‘strategically’ you will vote for the best of the minor candidates when it comes to your personal crusade. Since nothing will change whichever candidate from the major party wins, your vote for them is the wasted vote, and nothing will be affected by the absence of your ballot. If Gary Johnson (for example) gets significant numbers of votes, big party candidates will notice and understand that moderates moved toward him because of, not despite his position. There are two emotions which motivate politicians; fear and greed. If they fear losing and are greedy for a win, anything that helps them attract voters will change their position.(witness Romney) If they perceive that there is no harm in being more dovish on legalization, they will, in order to attract those moderate voters. From that point of view, a ‘protest’ vote is the only unwasted vote.

  23. Jeff Trigg says:

    Obama can reschedule cannabis out of Schedule 1 tomorrow if he wants. Obama’s current position is that cannabis has absolutely no medicinal value, and Obama will never change that position while in office.

    primus, you are right that a vote for a D or R is the wasted vote. Voting for “other” candidates has historically been one of the successful ways to get the Republicans and Democrats and Whigs to change their very wrong ways. Why did the Democrats and Whigs change their position in support of slavery? The Republican Party opposed slavery and the people agreed.

    Why did the Minnesota Democrats change their positions on farming and labor? The Farmers Party and the Labor Party, resulting in the current DFL Party in that state. Why did the Rs and Ds change their position on alcohol prohibition? They were losing votes to the Prohibition Party.

    We have lots of historical examples showing that the Ds and Rs are forced to change their policies when they start losing enough votes. Its not the only way to get them to change, but it has proven successful in the past. This is also why Obama is against free and equal democratic elections and why Obama believes in and practices discrimination and bigotry against people who aren’t Democrats. Obama does not believe in political competition or democratic elections because he is afraid of his team losing power. I’ve been paying attention to Obama since his days as a State Senator in Illinois. Obama is evil, and it doesn’t matter one lick if Romney is more evil.

    • Duncan20903 says:


      I can’t even say that Mr. Obama is less evil than Mr. Bush the lesser. In 2008 had you tried to tell me that would be my opinion in 2012 I would have been ROFLMAO at you. That’s one of the problems with voting for the perceived lesser of two evils. I’ll almost certainly end my life being a person who’s never voted for the candidate that became POTUS, and I’ll never regret that.

      • allan says:

        ‘zactly… we elect this country’s first black Prez, some hoping for Snoop Dogg. But instead we got Droopy Dogg…

        The Ds and Rs are literally two heads on one body – and it’s time to change that.

        • Duncan20903 says:

          Get back to me when you figure out how to get enough people to agree with us. I expect to forever be in a very minor minority.

  24. Ed Dunkle says:

    Sadly, there is a huge overlap in the demographics of the anti-prohibition crowd and dittoheads. How many women come to drugwarrant? This is mostly a white middle aged male group here, and Obama can safely write us off. He now is explicitly targeting the female vote, and they tend to be much more supportive of prohibition. (Just ask Nucky Johnson.)

  25. christy says:

    So the next step is undermining that effort. Get your mothers, girlfriends, wives, mistresses, daughters and any other female of the species in your life out there to legalization rallies and attending candidate townhalls.

  26. NORML needs new leadership, the organization needs to change and grow with the movement, not against it if the organization is to remain not just effective, but indeed relevant.

    Allen St. Pierre has proven over and over again that he resents the success of any company that does not support his organization 100%. He has also proven that he has not been a good leader for the norml as he has been unable to raise any significant funding in his tenure; as obviously the majority of us do not believe in him enough to write a check to norml and that speaks volumes.

    The organization would be much better off with term limits as new leadership would certainly do this organization the world of good.

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