Sweet Leaf, Green Leaf

Kevin Kamberg

The DEA recently raided a California medical marijuana dispensary, raising the question of what Obama's official policy will be.

"I think the basic concept of using medical marijuana for the same purposes and with the same controls as other drugs prescribed by doctors (is) entirely appropriate," Obama told Oregon's Mail Tribune newspaper in March. "I'm not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue."

The raid took place two days after Obama took office but before he had his own Justice Department team in place. Nevertheless it took place on his watch and medical pot activists and civil libertarians want him to freeze any future raids, or at least clarify what the current playing field looks like.

"We're sympathetic to the fact the administration is just getting its feet on the ground," Marijuana Policy Project spokesman Dan Bernath said on Thursday, "but this does show he needs to appoint folks who will respects his principles and policies."

Having been trail blazers with legalizing medical marijuana, Oregonians will be watching closely to see how Obama's formal policy on the subject materializes.

Meanwhile halfway around the world a new political party in Israel is creating a buzz well outside her borders. A faction called the Green Leaf Graduates split away from a small party best known for it's advocacy for legalizing Cannabis and is merging with the Halocaust Survivors party to form a new party simply (and appropriately) called Green Leaf to improve visibility for both advocacy groups. You wouldn't think that aging pensioners would have much in common with a younger, more hip generation trying to legalize pot. But in a parlimentary system it makes a certain sense to pool resources for the benefit of both groups. And if their edgy new TV commercial is any indication, the aging pensioners have embraced the merger with gusto!

  • Zarathustra (unverified)

    Thanks for the post, attention to the issue. I proposed, repeatedly, during the campaign that all AG candidates go on the record about their stance. Two years ago I said it should be mentioned in the Governor's race. How many questions has Kroger been asked that are not nearly as consequential?

    Why was this a troll's question to be ignored? Why has constant mention of Barney Frank's HR 5843 never receive one comment?

    In short, thanks for the clue that someone cares.

  • Mrs.Todd (unverified)

    Marijuana is either illegal or legal. A state has no power to legalize something that is illegal under federal law. Before this divulges into a debate about the pros and cons of weed, ask yourself this question: If Oregon wanted to legalize unlicensed machine gun registration (a violation of federal law) would you support the law because Oregonias passed it? or would you support be conditional on whether or not you personally agreed with the idea? This debate is not about pot, it is the age old question of federalism.

    Democrats traditionally favor the federal govt and republicans say that are state's righters (unless it is about assisted suicide or gun control then they favor the feds). Let us democrats at least be consistent on law and order issues otherwise we are just a hypocritical as the republicans by an inconsistent ideology.

  • (Show?)

    This debate is not about pot, it is the age old question of federalism.

    I would counter that you've got the cart in front of the horse. Legislation is about the particular merits at issue, not about jurisdiction. And if there are no laws then there is no federalism to even discuss.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)

    Forgot to mention thanks to Rep. Earl Blumenauer [D-OR] for co-sponsoring the aforementioned legislation.

    Ms. Todd, this is more like if the federal gov. bans aid to family planning that includes abortion, can Oregon say differently. "Machine guns" are most often seen by the gestapo at the head of some poor patient. Why do people never consider the social effect of a law, apart from what you think the merits are? Most Dutch can't stand weed, but they allow some because they're too cheap to spend 1/2 their school budget locking up non-violent offenders. Yeah, they've got a bit to understand before they come near being "the greatest country on earth". Yeah, you're such a rebel to believe that it's better to have people inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in.

    Yes, it's about Federalism. Let's keep it that way, too. It's also about paternalism and whether the masses are inherently unfit to govern themselves. You know why people that have lived in the Netherlands go on about quality of life there? It's not because they have any great answer to an particular problem. It's because when they do legislate a solution it is proposed, debated and implemented as policy by the Fed level, but actual implementation and the particular writing of the law is done at the city assembly level. It then works it way, via practice, up to the provincial level. All social solutions are local.

    We are inheritors of a legal, civil and cultural structure that, since the Saxon invasion of Britain, has been very different. The Normans put the Saxon trend on steroids. It is top down, paternalistic and designed to maximize conformance to a central administration that is taken to know better. All of our constitutional rights have been extracted from this structure when they cannot procede effectively without the cooperation of the public. As a country, we have never, ever been comfortable with people proceeding without adequate, central, federal supervision. To get justice on this issue will require a revolution. I think we're doomed, because populations don't wage revolutions for altruistic motives, and this doesn't affect most people. At least that's the common perception. To those that care, it is the most effecting of issues.

    You can also argue that individualism is considered a central American characteristic because it was the inspiration, escaping those Saxon-Norman paternalistic assumptions, that drove many of the English emigrants to the US. As such, the country is a con. We hold out that promise, but those governing have seldom seriously thought about delivering. The perception is great for business, though. Throughout the years, Americans continue to buy it, leading to this kind of frustration. For all those asking what we are thinking, are we stoned, that's the answer. We haven't given up on the hope that this country might deliver on that promise. Anyone that thinks justice can come to the DEA buys it. It would be nice to have a real debate, and not simply be told by those that have cynically given up on the hope, that we need to get real.

    I'm real. I know if Obama ever seriously proposed reform on this, those "Hope" images with his face would get Photoshopped to "Dope", with an open hand or something.

  • JTT (unverified)

    and is merging with the Halocaust Survivors party

    That would be Holocaust...as opposed to the Halocaust (the genocide of angels? or the mass murder of Halo game players?)...ok back to pot talk.

  • Mrs.Todd (unverified)

    Zarathustra the fact that the "masses" of people in the U.S. through their representatives have outlawed marijuana is reality. And Kevin, whether that should be changed I agree is a decision in which the merits should be argued, but at the federal, not state, level.

    If, as Zarathustra thinks that our country held to the belief that "all social solutions are local" then abortion would be outlawed in most states. But as I said before, federalism is the issue. Whether you like it or not (right to choose vs. illegal marijuana) there can only be only one supreme law making power. If you disagree with that the country you should have lived in is not the Netherlands, but rather the Confederate States of America.

  • Dan Gicker (unverified)

    Related..there is a Oregon state senate bill that would change marijuana from a schedule I to a schedule II drug.

    Schedule I — drugs with a high abuse risk. These drugs have NO safe, accepted medical use in the United States. Some examples are heroin, marijuana, LSD, PCP, and crack cocaine.

    Schedule II — drugs with a high abuse risk, but also have safe and accepted medical uses in the United States. These drugs can cause severe psychological or physical dependence. Schedule II drugs include certain narcotic, stimulant, and depressant drugs. Some examples are morphine, cocaine, oxycodone (Percodan®), methylphenidate (Ritalin®), and dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine®).

    It seems that as a state, we have accepted that marijuana has an accepted medical use. It has abuse potential, but that potential is not greater than other highly addictive schedule II drugs like cocaine and morphine. It is inconsistent to have a law authorizing medical marijuana but have this drug be classed as having no medical benefit.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)

    "those powers not expressly granted to the federal government remain the jurisdiction of the states.

    Perhaps Mrs. Todd should actually read and understand the US Constitution BEFORE weighing on on federalism vs states' rights.

    find a meaningful way to accurately measure and define "under the influence" and I have no problem with legalized adult use of marijuana.

  • Mrs.Todd (unverified)

    Kurt your 17th century rendering of the U.S. Constitution is charming and is very much inline with Justices Scalia and Clarence Thomas. As a Democrat though, I do not agree.

  • BOHICA (unverified)

    Lets face it, people like to get high. Other people don't want them to. That worked out so well during prohibition.

    This article from Salon dot com lays it out pretty well:

    Why is Marijuana Illegal? A brief history of the criminalization of cannabis

    Some highlights:

    Here are some quotes that have been widely attributed to Anslinger and his Gore Files:

    "There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz, and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others."
    "...the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races."
    "Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death."
    "Reefer makes darkies think they're as good as white men."
    "Marihuana leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing"
    "You smoke a joint and you're likely to kill your brother."
    "Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind."</blockquote>

    Good old William Randolph Hearst got in on the act:

    Some samples from the San Francisco Examiner:

    "Marihuana makes fiends of boys in thirty days -- Hashish goads users to bloodlust."
    "By the tons it is coming into this country -- the deadly, dreadful poison that racks and tears not only the body, but the very heart and soul of every human being who once becomes a slave to it in any of its cruel and devastating forms.... Marihuana is a short cut to the insane asylum. Smoke marihuana cigarettes for a month and what was once your brain will be nothing but a storehouse of horrid specters. Hasheesh makes a murderer who kills for the love of killing out of the mildest mannered man who ever laughed at the idea that any habit could ever get him...."</blockquote>

    I especially like this little gem on the discussion before the vote on The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937:

    Member from upstate New York: "Mr. Speaker, what is this bill about?"

    Speaker Rayburn: "I don't know. It has something to do with a thing called marihuana. I think it's a narcotic of some kind."

    "Mr. Speaker, does the American Medical Association support this bill?"

    Member on the committee jumps up and says: "Their Doctor Wentworth[sic] came down here. They support this bill 100 percent."

    The AMA did not support the bill as documented in the linked article.

    Mrs. Todd wants to point out the issue of federal law over state law. I would point out the violation of the Constitution by the DEA, specifically Article VI:


    Article. VI.

    Clause 2: This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

    Case in point, growing industrial hemp on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The drug war comes to the Rez.

    Alex White Plume called it his "field of dreams": an acre and a half of plants so tall and strong they seemed to touch the sky; a crop representing hope for a new and self-sufficient life for his family, residents of the desperately impoverished Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

    But on Aug. 24, 2000 at sunrise, just four days before White Plume and his neighbors planned to harvest their bounty, White Plume awoke to the sounds of helicopters. He looked out the window and saw a convoy of vehicles heading for his field.

    He raced down to investigate, and was met by a slew of black-clad and heavily armed figures -- 36 agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the US Marshal's office.

    When White Plume rolled down the window of his pick-up to ask what was going on, he says, one US marshal pointed a gun in his face. Meanwhile, the other agents chopped down each plant near the roots and hauled them away.

    They were growing "INDUSTRIAL HEMP".

    "Tribal sovereignty means that; it's sovereign. I mean, you're a — you've been given sovereignty, and you're viewed as a sovereign entity. And therefore the relationship between the federal government and tribes is one between sovereign entities."

    George W. Bush —Washington, D.C., Aug. 6, 2004 (Had to throw that in!)

    Mrs. Todd:

    Zarathustra the fact that the "masses" of people in the U.S. through their representatives have outlawed marijuana is reality

    Representatives do not pass laws because the "masses" want them (with a few exceptions), they pass laws to benefit their corporate/political masters. That is reality.

  • Mrs.Todd (unverified)

    Trying to have a rational conversation with a born again Christian that Jesus was not divine is easier than trying to have a rational conversation with quasireligious dope smokers.

  • BOHICA (unverified)

    The only "quasireligious" (sic) I ever had was in Vietnam when I realized there is no "God".

  • Zarathustra (unverified)

    Ms. Todd, Jesus doesn't touch on as many aspects of life as Mary Jane does. Besides, looking at the debate you seem to be the one that is getting more emotional. I'm giving you credit that you don't actually believe Kurt's construction is consistent with Scalia and Thomas'. What have we asked you to accept without evidence, or how have we threatened you or judged you lifestyle? The only fact you give is that there is a debate about Federalism- well, you don't accept should be debate, just wrote memorization of a version of it that isn't the reality on the ground- to which people have responded, then you mischaracterize their answers. You decided that your aspersions would be valid before you ever read a word, when you saw the topic, didn't you? It is a great issue in peoples' lives, not an opportunity for you to get a cheap point in about "those pot smokers, at it again". I suggest you take Wittgenstein's good advice, and in the face of that which is great, speak greatly or be silent.

    It's also rude to compare someone with an evangelical. How would you like it if I compared you to a prison rapist? I would be doing you less of a disservice.

  • (Show?)

    Posted by: BOHICA | Jan 31, 2009 4:40:21 AM

    Tribal sovereignty, or to be more specific, the lack thereof has long been a pet peeve of mine. It is beyond disgraceful that Americans insist that if only the Palestinians would play Israel's game that they would get the freedom they desire... while glibly ignoring our own indifference to Indian nations having played our game and still get the short end of the stick.

  • Running Bowels Sitting Tight (unverified)

    We domesticated the Indians like dogs. Now we're working on your kids. The wild must die. First, kill the wild places. Second, kill free spirit. Finally, instill learned helplessness. That will guarantee despair, depression, then alcoholism and then suicide.

    The only difference between the Indians and everyday Americans is that the government doesn't bother to buy PR time to spin what they do to the Indians.

  • KissMyGrass (unverified)

    Posted by: Mrs.Todd | Jan 30, 2009 10:07:12 AM

    Marijuana is either illegal or legal.

    And you're either of the age of consent or not. Ooops, that isn't true. Hmmm. Local authorities can and should implement the age of consent, affecting ALL CONTRACT LAW, but what adults grow in the back garden MUST be regulated by the Federal government.

    Admit it ToddPud, it makes you spit to think that anyone is doing anything the Feds don't like. Next cop that tries to bust me for a joint is going to get a kick in the nads and a "that's from Ms. Todd". Better dead than...ANYTHING American!

  • Mrs.Todd (unverified)

    The quality of these arguments have led me to believe that I am wrong and:

    1) duly enacted laws in the US are really the result of "corporte and political masters"- BOHICA

    2) people should be allowed to grow anything they want in their back yards be it marijuana or opium poppies-KissmyGrass

    3)the prodominately white, no-jury or 5th Amendment, Netherlands is in fact the greatest country on earth with the best legal system-Zarathustra

    4) somehow this has to do with Native Americans (which as a white person makes me feel guilty- but not so much as a woman since most Indians were pretty sexist)

    5) and finally that the feds have no hope of enforcing the law because despite the argument that most marijuana users are on death's door getting medical marijuana cards (or as I once thought: overweight 2Am taco bell frequenters), they are in fact vibrant people like Kissmygrass who will fight like Apaches for their Beastie Boy right to party

  • Jiang (unverified)

    Excellent. Glad we have that straight.

    2) people should be allowed to grow anything they want in their back yards be it marijuana or opium poppies-KissmyGrass

    Case in point that Sam and the rest of City gov is unresponsive and a law unto themselves. Turn back the clock a few years to the battle for the Reed Community Garden. Sam at Parks. Many people were cultivating opium poppies, and students were turning up at night to score and harvest them. The issue was raised, and, at no point to anyone look at the law, possible liability, how the behavior was an example of systemic probs that had been pointed out for years...none of that. He called a group of longtime Parks people to find out what their practice had been. They had "a friend" at the Police Bureau that advised on such matters, and he said, "just forget it". That was the end of it. Of course, we had constant visits from beat officers, that made a number of interdictions. But, the City had taken care of the problem by deciding that it didn't exist, regardless of what the gardeners were left to deal with.

    You think these bloggers are proposing some kind of alternative reality? You already are living it; you just don't know it.

  • Tide (unverified)

    It is beyond disgraceful that Americans insist that if only the Palestinians would play Israel's game that they would get the freedom they desire... while glibly ignoring our own indifference to Indian nations having played our game and still get the short end of the stick.

    WTF? That comment is clearly the final proof that this Kevin person is the biggest windbag in the Oregon Political blogosphere. Hands down!

  • Zarathustra (unverified)

    Actually, Tide, regardless of what you think of his opinions, he bothers to reason it out. Perhaps you're not aware that most of his thesis are fully explored at Preemptive Karma? If he's talking just to hear himself, he must be a masochist!

    Simply declaring that someone is "the biggest windbag in the Oregon Political blogosphere", would be an example of being a windbag, no?

  • Zarathustra (unverified)

    3)the prodominately white, no-jury or 5th Amendment, Netherlands is in fact the greatest country on earth with the best legal system-Zarathustra

    See, even cynical respect gets us somewhere. That was exactly my point. Local implementation works so well, they literally don't notice they have no fifth ammendment protections! I debated this issue long and hard when I lived there, and I could only make inroads, arguing they need such a thing, by positing a Nazi style take-over of the country.

    It's amazing how much you don't have to protect yourself from the government and it's actions, when the local city assembly is the authority taking the action, when you can show up and meet with those anonymous social planners, when they have to go home and raise a family next door to you.

    But I never used the word "great". No country is great anymore than a person is. I'm with my history prof. that used to say, "anyone with 'The Great' after his/her name is burning in hell". Same goes for "great nations". We'll truly know it is a new era when "great nation" means one that has its house in order. Ms. Todd, do you really believe the US has its house in order?

  • (Show?)

    Thanks, Zar. Although, in fairness, I would argue that some sort of masochism is pretty much implied for anyone willing to take a public political stand on a public blog. I'm certainly no exception.

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