It's funny how Republicans keep talking amongst themselves about how they can get back ahead of Democrats -- usually by reverting to tactics (like the "Contract
On For America") that worked twenty years ago but have nothing to do with the shape of America going forward.
Instead, they clutch vigorously to their old standbys even as America changes before them. The classic case of this is the GOP's ongoing affair with immigration-bashing nativists, even as the country demographically before their eyes.
Similarly, they insist on clinging to outdated policies like the "War on Drugs" and the hardline stance that we should basically criminalize drug users and keep relatively harmless drugs like marijuana illegal, even for proven medical use.
A poll by Zogby International released today found that 41% of Americans agree that “the government should treat marijuana more or less the same way it treats alcohol: it should regulate it, control it, tax it and only make it illegal for children.” This represents a striking increase from previous nationwide polls on making marijuana legal.
The Obama administration, at least, is edging slowly in the direction of sanity,having announced last month that it would cease prosecuting people for possession in states that allow medical marijuana.
This policy has the Republicans all a-dither, as you can see in the video above of the hysterical grilling Sen. Tom Coburn gave Attorney General Eric Holder earlier this month about the issue.
Similarly, Republicans on the local level are working quietly to undermine this policy shift. In Washington state, as Lee Rosenberg recently reported for HorsesAss, the state's GOP attorney general, Rob McKenna, has been quietly attacking our medical-marijuana law on his own:
Here in Washington, our state law enforcement officials should be following the voter initiative passed in 1998 (and the follow-up legislation from 2007), not the Federal law. Unfortunately, our Attorney General doesn’t seem to agree. Rob McKenna’s office has been trying to undermine Washington State’s medical marijuana law, and thanks to a Public Disclosure Request, we’re finally able to shine some light on what they’ve been doing.
After the PDR was filed, nearly 800 pages of emails and other documents from the Department of Corrections were recently released to the Cannabis Defense Coalition. They’re broken up into eight 100-page PDF files. The documents are not in any order, so I created a chronological index for easy searching of specific events.
The reason that so much attention is focused on the DOC is because a number of qualified medical marijuana patients have been raided by police and arrested (the medical marijuana law does not provide an affirmative defense from arrest), pressured into accepting plea deals that would keep them out of a jail cell but still on probation, and then put under the supervision of the Department of Corrections. The Department of Corrections would then claim the authority to deny those individuals the ability to use medical marijuana through internal rules that they’d made up after consulting with the AG’s office. They would then easily enforce those rules by administering drug tests. In the end, you had individuals who’d been authorized by their doctors to use medical marijuana having law enforcement interfere with that decision and either force them to stop using that medicine or to use a less effective alternative like Marinol.
This end-around of the voter-approved medical marijuana law worked on a number of medical marijuana patients. Pamela Olson was one victim before her husband Bruce fought his own case in Kitsap County court and won (sadly, they lost their home in the process). It’s not clear, even with the released documents, exactly how many people were affected by this (names are redacted throughout), but lawyers who defend authorized patients have been dealing with cases across the state for several years now and are still hoping to bring some kind of legal action against the Attorney General, the DOC, or both.
Go read the whole piece, which is an excellent example of citizen journalism at its finest. (None of the local media, incidentally, have picked up on the story.)
It's truly maddening that the state's chief law-enforcement officer has been working so hard to undermine a law duly passed (and reinforced) by the citizens of the state. But then, it seems to be part of the Republican condition these days: clinging to outdated ideas because doing so just seems conservative, you betcha.
Incidentally, Rosenberg also posted this graphic recently underscoring just what a waste of our national resources our pig-headed pot laws really are: