mind your business

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Obama's New Medical Marijuana Policy Is Not A Step Forward For Liberty

Yesterday's big headline was the Obama Administration's new policy (which was already announced months ago, if you'll remember) on medical marijuana:

"Federal drug agents won't pursue pot-smoking patients or their sanctioned suppliers in states that allow medical marijuana, under new legal guidelines to be issued Monday by the Obama administration."

I want to advise my fellow libertarians not to get too excited about this development. I'm certainly not.

This is neither a step forward for advocates of marijuana legalization, nor "states' rights" proponents who want to see the Federal government staying on its side of the line drawn by the 10th amendment.

Michelle Malkin calls this out for exactly what it is:

The “clarifying” memo that will be sent out today, seven months after Holder first announced the “shift,” makes clear that the Obama administration will actually retain the same discretion the Bush administration exercises to prosecute someone whose activities are deemed legal in states that allow medical marijuana use.

In other words, they will continue Bush-era policies when they find it expedient to do so in the future — but they want praise and obeisance from the Left for paying lip service to Transformative Change now. It’s the Obama way!

Exactly! I could not have summarized it better myself. The American Spectator also does a roundup of all the gleeful opinions that see this move as an advance for federalism- and solidly refutes them.

It's interesting to see some hardened libertarians and pot-activists excited about this while two pretty conventionally conservative publications aren't being fooled at all. Another thing that both Michelle Malkin and Joseph Lawler at The American Spectator point out, is that even if this is a teeny-tiny step forward in one direction, the Obama Administration is taking gigantic leaps backward in other areas of policy.

Okay, so what if you're allowed to use marijuana with a doctor's prescription, in strict accordance with your state's laws? Will that matter if the government will get to decide if your insurance will pay for that? Or if the government foots the bill itself with funds extorted from taxpayers? On a more related note, what does it say when the government makes a symbolic gesture toward drug legalization and federalism on pot, but literally bans the sale of clove cigarettes while hiking taxes on all other cigarettes?

Let me make this very, very clear. If you are a 10th amendment proponent, civil libertarian, advocate for drug legalization, or supporter of medical marijuana laws: Barack Obama IS NOT your friend.

We need to call this new policy out for what it is...


  1. I'm a libertarian and certainly no fan of Obama, but Michelle has this one wrong.

    Bush had a vastly different policy.. The DEA generally did not go around busting medical dispensaries like a game of whack-a-mole, but the DEA did raid legitimate dispensaries and threatened many legitimate dispensaries with being shut down.

    We will see how Obama's policy plays out, but on paper we should correctly recognize that the policies are vastly different.

  2. Thanks for the comment! Would you mind clarifying? I don't see how what you wrote is inconsistent with Mrs. Malkin's description.

  3. How about we reference the actual document instead of some gruel that was eagerly supped up by a lazy reporter who copies and pastes their way through a deadline (the Lazy Libertarian and Magpie Malkin both are as guilty as the reporter referenced above).

    You are wrong to say that this is not a victory for the Marijuana Legalization movement. Many USA's often stated that they did not take AG Holders press conference as instructive nor as a directive. Now they have clear marching orders. No AG memo would restore a states rights, those rights can only be restored by legislation. But for many patients and their providers this is welcome news. They have a temporary reprieve from active federal prosecution until appropriate legislation has been passed through the Congress. Since the exceptions outlined by Holder are clear violations of State Law as well, those prosecutions would have gone ahead regardless.

    I'd suggest that if you feel that there is no advantage to states rights or to your Libertarian agenda, you should use this space to demand Holder resend this Memorandum, and return to the asinine prosecutions of cancer patients. I'm sure that position is more advantageous to your political view, but it is not to my or my mothers personal advantage..

  4. I need some advice. I am Stage IIII with colon cancer. It has mestastised to my liver, and lung. I have my prescription from my Oncologist. I also have a medical marijuana card which protects me in the state of Washington. Here comes the rub. I am headed out to Florida to help him celebrate my Dad's birthday. Can I fly with any pot, whether it is bud or cooked into treats. I don't want to get busted at the airport. Am I protected by any Federal Laws that guaranty that I can transport med marjuana for my cancer treratment. Thanks and God Bless.

  5. Whoa- I don't provide legal advice here and am not at all sure whether you'd be safe taking that with you. Though if I had to guess (and again, I am just a kid who writes opinion pieces, not a legal expert, so DON'T TAKE ME TOO SERIOUSLY), I would bet you are not protected, and that even if you are, that mistakes could very easily happen and you could end up with a lot of trouble on your hand if you take any of that with you into an airport. Be careful.