the humble libertarian

out of many one

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...