THE HIGH TIMES PRESIDENTIAL UN-ENDORSEMENT
Page Six - November 2008
Thu, Sep 25, 2008
[See URL for embedded links.]
Four years ago, HIGH TIMES endorsed John Kerry for president of the
United States in an editorial titled "Help, I'm stoned, who should I
vote for?" Apparently, Mr. Kerry didn't win. Still, our endorsement
made the rounds via email and the political blogs, stirring up some
debate and also, perhaps, a bit of backlash.
After all, there must be someone in America who thinks that our
current harsh policy towards the world's most benign and healing herb
makes sense. Nobody that we've ever met, naturally, but the old-guard
supporters of the War on Marijuana are still out there, and they're
certainly not shy about attacking a candidate for being "soft on drugs."
Still, with 78 percent of Americans these days in favor of "making
marijuana legally available for doctors to prescribe in order to
reduce pain and suffering," this may be the election when the
anti-pot politicians are finally branded as "soft on compassion and
respect for basic human dignity."
When he was questioned repeatedly by Granite Staters for Medical
Marijuana during the current presidential campaign, Republican
Senator John McCain, true to form, attempted at first to take every
side of the issue, claiming that he opposes arresting
medical-marijuana patients, while admitting that he would continue
the federal government's raids in California and the 11 other states
that have created med-pot programs.
"I do not approve of the medical use of marijuanaI never have, and I
never will," McCain finally acknowledged under heavy fire. "I believe
there are other ways of relieving that pain and suffering."
Presumably, the senior senator from Arizona was referring to
prescription painkillers like Percocet and Vicodin. He should know,
since his second wife, Cindyheir to a massive beer-distribution
fortunewas caught by the DEA in 1993 stealing large supplies of
these drugs from her own charity organization in order to treat a
personal habit that had spiraled out of control.
So, if you were John McCain, how would you react when you found out
that your multi-multimillionaire trophy wife was a thieving drug
addict whose habit eventually destroyed the American Voluntary
Medical Team, which she'd originally founded with the noble goal of
bringing medical relief to war-torn regions of the third world? If
you guessed "Treat her like everybody else," you don't know anything
about the War on Drugs.
Instead of upholding the law, McCain used his inside connections to
scuttle the DEA investigation, shipping his wife off to a
country-club-style drug-treatment center as part of the diversion
program, while having the whistleblower who exposed her crimes fired
and investigated for "extortion." Naturally, the media all went along
for the ride, dutifully reporting on his "brave" wife's battle with
addiction, while largely ignoring her brazen theft of medicine
intended to treat poor people injured in distant military conflicts.
As usual, the War on Some Drugs and Some of the People Who Use Them
just doesn't apply to the rich and powerful.
Meanwhile, the three remaining major-party candidatesBarack Obama
(Democrat), Bob Barr (Libertarian) and Ralph Nader (Green)all agree
that the federal government must finally accept that individual
states have a right to enact protections for medical-marijuana
patients, the doctors who treat them, and the growers who supply
their medicine. HIGH TIMES kindly recommends that you vote for one of
themor, better yet, for our own columnist Bobby Black, proudly
running on the Freak Power ticket. But not John McCain.
For more information on the candidates' positions on marijuana and
the War on Drugs, check out granitestaters.com/candidates/
OBAMA'S MANY VIEWS ON MARIJUANA
February 10, 2008
by PAUL KRASSNER
During a debate in the Democratic presidential primaries campaign,
MSNBC moderator Tim Russert, the claymation journalist, asked the
candidates who opposed decriminalization of marijuana to raise their hands.
Barack Obama hesitantly raised his hand halfway before quickly
lowering it again. However, in January 2004, when Obama was running
for the Senate, he told Illinois college students that he supported
eliminating criminal penalties for marijuana use or possession. "I
think the war on drugs has been a failure, and I think we need to
rethink and decriminalize our marijuana laws," he said during a
debate at Northwestern University. "But I'm not somebody who believes
in legalization of marijuana."
Was Obama now having a time-travel debate with himself? When the
Washington Times confronted Obama with that statement on a video of
the 2004 debate, his campaign offered two explanations in less than
24 hours. First, a spokesperson said that Obama had "always"
supported decriminalizing marijuana, that he misunderstood the
question when he raised his hand, and reiterated Obama's opposition
to full legalization, adding that an Obama administration would
"review drug sentences to see where we can be smarter on crime and
reduce the blind and counterproductive sentencing to non-violent offenders."
But, after the Times posted the video on its website, the Obama
campaign made a fast U-turn and declared that he does not support
eliminating criminal penalties for marijuana possession and
use--thereby rejecting both decriminalization and legalization.
What exactly is the difference? The definitions, according to Pot
Culture: The A-Z Guide to Stoner Language & Life by Shirley Halperin
and Steve Bloom, with a foreword by Tommy Chong: "Decriminalization:
When laws governing marijuana are changed to reduce the penalties for
possession of small quantities (usually below an ounce) to
non-criminal status. The first state to decriminalize was Oregon in
1973, followed by California, New York, Ohio, Nebraska, Minnesota,
Colorado, Mississippi, Alaska, North Carolina and Maine."
"Legalization: The complete repeal of marijuana prohibition and
removal of all criminal penalties for its use, sale, transport and
cultivation. The Netherlands is the only country in the world with
such a policy."
Ron Fisher at NORML told me, "Decriminalization is the elimination of
criminal penalties for the possession of marijuana, usually by
replacing them with a fine (similar to a speeding ticket). Full
legalization is a more complex issue that involves U.S. treaties, as
well as the law. Legalization would be characterized by taxation and
regulation of marijuana.
This is NORML's ultimate goal, but we work for decrim in the meantime
for the sake of the 830,000 Americans arrested on cannabis charges
each year." And, according to medical marijuana activist Lanny
Swerdlow, "Whether Senator Obama has changed his position or not, if
he obtains the Democratic nomination for president, then marijuana
decriminalization will certainly become an issue in the
campaign--maybe a major issue. I'm sure the Republicans will use
Obama's videotaped statement supporting decriminalization and will
try to paint him as soft on crime, sending the wrong message to
children and all the baggage that goes with it. In this day and age,
I think that could very well backfire as I really believe that most
Americans are not aware, let alone support, ensnaring 830,000
citizens in the criminal justice system for marijuana-prohibition
violations at a cost to taxpayers of between 10 and 20 billion
dollars a year."
Indeed, a CNN/Time-Warner poll shows that 76% of Americans agree with
Obama's original position, not to mention the 48 million who smoked
pot in 2007.