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Froma Harrop
NationofChange / Op-Ed
Published: Monday 17 December 2012
The successful ballot measures in Colorado and Washington give the Obama administration another opportunity to find its bearings and stop throwing billions down the hole of marijuana prohibition.

Crashing Federal Hypocrisy on Pot

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Ah, the great American West, where man can generally breathe free and also inhale — woman, too. Thank you, thank you, voters in Colorado and Washington state, for legalizing marijuana. But will Washington, D.C., leave you alone? Attorney General Eric Holder said this week that the Justice Department will weigh its response to the state referenda.

A new national poll finds 58 percent of Americans in favor of making marijuana legal and only 39 percent against. A raft of other state laws easing the prohibition on pot and growing public contempt for the existing law should be enough to change the policy. And so should a basic sense of decency.

We persecute ordinary Americans for using an illegal drug smoked by the last three inhabitants of the White House. President Obama admitted — and George W. Bush all but admitted — to having experimented (don't you love the word "experimented"?) not only with pot, but with cocaine.

Courts rarely inflict heavy prison terms on users of marijuana these days, Tony Ryan, a retired lieutenant from the Denver Police Department, told me, "but it's still a drug arrest, so if you're 18 years and older, it goes on your record."

That means you may not be able to get a job at a steel plant, join the Navy, obtain a student loan or keep your child in a custody battle. But wide knowledge that you smoked pot is apparently not enough to stop you from becoming commander in chief of the United States Armed Forces.

Ryan is on the board of a group called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition — former police and other law officers calling for the end to the War on Drugs. A Denver cop for 36 years, he's intrigued at what the Obama administration will do next. In Colorado, the feds decided to mostly leave medical marijuana alone. But to flex their muscles, they started picking on medical marijuana dispensaries within 1,000 feet of schools.

"I said, OK, what high school student is going to go to convince a doctor under threat of losing his license that he is ill and needs to have medical marijuana," Ryan commented, "when he can just walk down the halls of the school and get whatever he wants?"

In 2008, candidate Obama said he would not use Justice Department resources to frustrate state laws allowing medical marijuana. But President Obama did just that, even letting attorneys general threaten government employees at state-run medical marijuana facilities.

Ignoring the scientific evidence, the feds deem marijuana a dangerous substance that allegedly acts as a "gateway" to harder drugs. The political reality is that legalizing marijuana is a gateway to ending the ludicrous War on Drugs — a $40 billion-a-year failure off which many Americans find employment. Last year, 80 percent of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration's seizures were of marijuana. If marijuana were legalized, what would those agents, lawyers, judges and prison guards keeping us safe from marijuana do?

Oddly, liberal Democrats seem more afraid of letting go of the ban on marijuana than libertarian Republicans and even some social conservatives. (Evangelist Pat Robertson says it ruins the lives of too many young people.) In the Colorado vote, former Rep. Tom Tancredo, a hard-right Republican, supported the constitutional amendment regulating marijuana like alcohol, and Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper opposed it. To his credit, Hickenlooper subsequently declared the amendment official and put a legalization advocate on the committee setting up a regulatory process.

The successful ballot measures in Colorado and Washington give the Obama administration another opportunity to find its bearings and stop throwing billions down the hole of marijuana prohibition. That money could be put elsewhere, so we're told.


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ABOUT Froma Harrop
Froma Harrop’s nationally syndicated column appears in over 150 newspapers, including The Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle, Seattle Times, Denver Post and Newsday. The twice-a-week column is distributed by Creators Syndicate, in Los Angeles. Harrop has written for numerous other publications, ranging from The New York Times and Institutional Investor, to Harper’s Bazaar and Metropolitan Home. Previously, she covered business for Reuters Ltd., in New York, and was a financial editor for The New York Times News Service. A Loeb Award finalist for economic commentary, Harrop was also honored by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Over the years, the New England Associated Press News Executives Association has named her for five awards.

"But President Obama did just

"But President Obama did just that, even letting attorneys general threaten government employees at state-run medical marijuana facilities."

Wow, really, where are or were these state run medical marijuana facilities?

I guess I'm in the minority,

I guess I'm in the minority, but that is where many intelligent people have been and still are. I wonder why people who favor this either don't know or don't care about the following:
Pot is smoked, meaning infants and all children in the household will be exposed to a dangerous drug. Ever see anyone arrested for smoking cigarettes in their house?
Marijuana causes holes in the brain, and does irreversible damage to the brains of infants, children, and adolescents. Do a search on marijuana and brain and you can find the information.
Most people can grow their own pot, unlike tobacco.
We can't keep tobacco out of the hands of children, why do you think we can keep legalized pot away from them?
People living in apartments will be forced to breathe pot smoke, just as they are now forced to breathe cigarette smoke, from their neighbors.
Pets in the household will be breathing pot smoke. It causesbrain damage in dogs and cats and epilepsy in dogs.
Judgment is impaired by smoking pot and children will be harmed by people with worse judgment than they already have to confront today.
It is documented that legalizing pot will NOT in any way reduce crime. In fact, I asked my students in a prison if legalizing ALL drugs and giving them good jobs would convince them to stop dealing drugs. Their answer was that they have plenty of other things they could do instead: prostitution, numbers, auto theft. . . . In fact, human trafficking will multiply enormously if drugs are legalized and may even be worsened by just legalizing pot.

We have already seen two pot-smoking college students exhibit the poor judgment of a user by taking pot-laden brownies to a college class that routinely had food-sharing in class, which resulted in the professor and several students going to the hospital.

People who have not damaged their power of reasoning with drugs and still favor legalizing them do not see the whole picture and have not done the research that many of us in the minority have. We are asking for a horrific change in our country by taking an apparently easy way out of a difficult problem. The most important part is that we will not be able to protect our children, and that would be a huge problem in our society that already damages them in so many ways.

You are absolutely correct

You are absolutely correct that you are in the minority. Hundreds if not thousands of people, doctors, physicians, other healthcare professionals, scientists, authors, writers, directors, professors, musicians, etc., would definitely concur that you are a bafoon. No one has ever overdosed nor died from marijuana. Nor does it leave holes in the brain. Recent studies show that not only does marijuana NOT destroy brain cells, but it actually encourages growth. Matter of fact, the active ingredient, THC, is a cannabinoid. Cannabinoids are a class of diverse chemical compounds that activate cannabinoid receptors. These include the endocannabinoids (produced naturally in the body by humans and animals).

Marijuana has been proven to have many medicinal properties, & has been known to reduce cancerous tumor growths & possibly even cure cancer entirely, (studies have found that marijuana actually reduced lung cancer tumors by 50% in 2 months in mice). Marijuana actually increases nutrient flow to certain muscles - specifically after, say, working out. This is because it thins the blood, (similar to caffeine before your warning bells go off), but without the negative effects that caffeine has. This causes your heart to be able to pump more blood to different parts of your body faster, and thus increase nutrient uptake. Such nutrients also help in the growth of the brain.
www dot ncbi dot

Marijuana has actually been proven in European studies to INCREASE intelligence quotient by 5-10 points. Such quotient is the ability of the brain to process problems, creativity, etc. Logically, this makes sense - Marijuana has not been proven to make any sort of "holes", and in reality, the only thing associated with it that would, would be holding your breath...which actually does kill brain cells, but it is not even comparable to just ONE night of drinking. As well, it has been proven to STIMULATE certain parts of the brain when one is sober, again.

Marijuana is a state-changer, not a hard drug. It changes the way your brain perceives things, essentially making you the ultimate "receiver", but minimally reducing your ability to interact, (except in creative fields for reasons I'll get into in a minute). This is done by increasing the sensitivity of your senses, changing the way your brain perceives things, and, ultimately, supporting Einstein's claim of reality as perception based...we live in a given reality because it is naturally the reality we fall into, but it is NOT the only "right" way of receiving signals. In fact, I'd say that's very relative.

Look at the statistics from other countries & you will find where they have legalized marijuana that the crime rates have gone down, & usage has gone down, especially among the younger crowd. Some people have poor judgment no matter what, but that is especially due to mental health or being uneducated.

Some of the most famous people in history have smoked marijuana, & hence produced some wonderful thoughts, products, & services. Just to name a few, there's Dr. Andrew Weil; Steve Jobs of Apple; Sir Richard Branson who is the founder of the Virgin empire, which just happens to encompass everything from airlines to record stores to cell phones. Branson made his entire multi-billion dollar fortune from absolutely nothing & just happens to be the 236th richest person in the world. There's also astronomer, scientist and astrochemist Carl Sagan; Steven King the author; & renowned scientist and Harvard Professor Stephen Jay Gould who also authored many books on science & evolution.

Marijuana does not produce poor judgment. No one gets battered, abused, attacked, nor killed because of ingesting marijuana. I've known too many people over the decades who have indulged, & most of them are very productive people in society. You will find people of poor judgment in any crowd, especially those with mental health issues, but blaming marijuana is not the cause nor reason.

You are the one who really needs to do the research. Marijuana can alleviate depression, pain, nausea, insomnia, loss of appetite, side effects of chemotherapy, as well as a whole host of other issues, (such as Multiple Sclerosis for just one example).

Prohibition creates a 'want to' attitude in those that want to buck the system. It creates that risk of trying to get away with something that is illegal. The 'War On Drugs' has not worked , the same as prohibition didn't work with alcohol. Alcohol is one of the most deadliest drugs of man, same as Big Pharma. Quit buying into the propaganda that has been pushed on the people for over a hundred years.

YOU, Aqua, need to look at the big picture. They took a descent respectable plant that had been planted, cultivated, & used for thousands of years & outlawed it so that doctors & Big Pharma could make tons of money off the chemicals they recommend we ingest. We go broke so they can make a ton of money off of things you should never consume. I could go on forever about this never ending loop.

Big oil gets subsidies (payouts) from the taxpayers to make all this plastic garbage that doesn't hold up to wear & tear. In George Washington's day, Hemp was a huge crop that can make everything we need that stands up to wear & tear. From materials, supplies, rope to clothing. They outlawed hemp & marijuana so they could make huge amounts of money off our backs for several reasons. They couldn't patent hemp & marijuana, & because the products produced last forever, well, there's no money in that. Same for Big Pharma. The truth is out there. I suggest you go find it & quit with the brainwashing crap.

Don't forget about the tens

Don't forget about the tens of billions bigpharma stands to loose from useless snakeoil sales when folks start smokin' away what's ailin' 'em.

Slight edit: (Evangelist Pat Robertson ruins the lives of too many young people.)

My hope is that the states of

My hope is that the states of Washington and Colorado will see such an increase in revenues from these laws that other states will soon follow suit. Another benefit would be the reduction in court and prison costs. While I'd like to see them make the change for the right reasons (cited above), I'd be happy to see the end of Canabis Prohibition even if it is justified by taxaholic legislators based on the money.

Long, long, long overdue!

Long, long, long overdue! Good article Froma! It's unfortunate that so many tax paying, law abiding citizens had to have their lives ruined because of an ignorant law interpretation, to get to this point.

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