(KURT NIMMO, BLACKLISTED NEWS EXCLUSIVE) Nine states will have marijuana initiatives on the ballot in November. Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada will vote to legalize marijuana, and Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and North Dakota will put medical marijuana on the ballot.
Despite more than half of polled Americans saying they support the legalization of marijuana—and 89 percent indicating they favor removing criminal penalty for medical marijuana patients—the federal government continues to categorized cannabis as a Schedule I narcotic along with with heroin, LSD, and psychedelic mushrooms. Currently, there are nearly a million and a half Americans legally using medical marijuana under state laws and a far larger number using it illegally for a wide variety of medical conditions.
“The draconian Schedule I status of cannabis, set 45 years ago by the black and hippie-obsessed President Richard Nixon, turned America’s drug laws into a nightmarish, Orwellian system of harshness and cruelty as over 20 million fellow citizens have been arrested and punished for marijuana,” writes Don Fitch.
Many Americans in favor of legalized marijuana thought they had an advocate when Barack Obama was elected. Instead, Obama has reinforced prohibition in a number of ways.
He reappointed Michele Leonhart to head the DEA. Leonhard is a Bush-era appointee. She made a career out of persecuting people who use cannabis. Vice President Joe Biden is an anti-marijuana warrior. He created the office of drug czar with its mandate to oppose medical marijuana, the Rave Act, and supported the notoriously cruel 1994 Crime Bill that has driven up the incarceration rate, notes Fitch. Obama hired anti-marijuana lobbyist Kevin Sabet as drug czar, unleashed the Justice Department to go after medical marijuana and dispensaries, and has consistently argued against legalization. In 2015, the president jacked up funding for the war on drugs to the tune of $27.6 billion.
“By removing marijuana alone from federal scheduling, tens of billions of dollars could be saved through reduced enforcement, prosecution, and incarceration. The United States has wasted roughly a trillion dollars, and countless lives, in its 40-plus years of drug war failure,” writes Fitch.
The war on cannabis has a number of influential supporters, including former Attorney General Bonnie Dumanis, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Barry McCaffrey, Arizona’s Senator John McCain, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, and Maryland Democrat Theodore J. Sophocleus.
Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have said they would support medical marijuana but are opposed to legalization.
Clinton holds an antiquated and thoroughly disproven opinion of cannabis. “I think the feds should be attuned to the way marijuana is still used as a gateway drug and how the drug cartels from Latin America use marijuana to get footholds in states, so there can’t be a total absence of law enforcement, but what I want to see, and I think we should be much more focused on this, is really doing good research so we know what it is we’re approving,” she said last July.
Failed presidential candidates have a mixed record on cannabis. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul said he favors medical marijuana and would leave legalization up to the states, as did Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, opposes both medical and recreational marijuana. Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive, supports decriminalization, not legalization, while retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson would allow medical marijuana in “compassionate cases,” but not recreational marijuana. Both Marco Rubio and Chris Christie are vocal advocates of marijuana prohibition. Christie has gone so far as to call for the federal government to force states to rollback their laws on marijuana. “I will crack down and not permit it,” he told radio host Hugh Hewitt.
If the November ballot initiatives in nine states are successful, they will send a strong message to the federal government on its antiquated scheduling of marijuana.
However, with anti-cannabis advocates like Chris Christie in government and an organized frontal assault by the likes of Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana, David Frum’s Smart Approaches to Marijuana, major police unions, Obama’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, pharmaceutical corporations, alcohol and beer companies, and private prison corporations pushing to keep cannabis illegal, it may prove to remain an uphill battle to bring sanity to America’s drug laws in the near future.