Thursday, August 02, 2012

The Federal War on Marijuana

The federal government's war on California's medical marijuana dispensaries continues apace, with threatening letters sent to landlords, causing the closure this week of two long-time institutions, HopeNet on 9th Street in SOMA and the Vapor Room in the lower Haight.

Late Wednesday afternoon there was a funeral march from the Vapor Room to the Federal Building on Golden Gate Avenue where the Justice Department and the DEA still have their offices.

The local Savonarola in the Justice Department is US Attorney Melinda Haag, caricatured above with the oversized puppet.

There is nothing worse than somebody perpetrating obvious evil while cloaking themselves in the mantle of moral superiority. Though Haag doesn't deserve Savonarola's violent end, she does deserve to be confronted and vilified everywhere, in public and private. She is causing real harm.

For instance, I have a medical marijuana recommendation letter from my general practitioner and have been using the extraordinary dispensary SPARC on Mission Street for the last couple of years. Though the facilities and staff couldn't be more charming, the block of Mission Street between Eighth and Ninth is definitely sketchy. However, the Justice Department has recently threatened the banks and the credit card companies into blackballing marijuana dispensaries, so now everyone has to walk around with large chunks of cash which is simply dangerous. Can you sue the Justice Department after you have been mugged, thanks to their insane policies?

The entire prison industrial complex, from the national to the local level, seems to be fed primarily by illegal drug users and dealers, and there is no way the system wants to change.

Here's a revealing detail. A San Francisco Examiner article by Ari Burack from October 21, 2011, reveals what tax money has been paying for in terms of local incarceration:

Two drug-related police scandals inadvertently have helped The City prepare for an influx of inmates under the state’s recently implemented prison realignment plan. The inmate population at San Francisco’s jails dropped sharply in early 2010 after the Police Department’s drug lab scandal came to light and again this year after allegations began surfacing about police misconduct during drug raids at residential hotels, Sheriff’s Department statistics show.
In other words, stop arresting unauthorized drug users and the jails and criminal courts empty out. Get on it, Assemblyman Ammiano and Supervisor Campos (pictured above). It's time for a sane drug policy for the 21st Century.


mw said...

You are back! I like what you've done with the place. Looks good. I believe this leaves me as the only blogger on the planet still using the old blogger template. I guess I am going to have to break down and upgrade.

Back on topic. Agree completely. It defies belief that anybody thinks this is good use of federal enforcement, judicial, or incarceration resources. I don't understand what the Obama administration thinks there is to gain by puruing these policies. It's not good law. It's not good politics.

As I've said before, the hypocritical "War on Drugs" in general and marijuana prohibition specifically is an expensive indulgence neither California or the rest of the country can afford.

I think the only answer for Californians dealing with the insanity of this latest federal overreach is jury nullification. Any Californian who finds themselves on any federal fury involving marijuana possession, sales, or cultivation should simply ignore the case and hold out for acquittal. Every case, every time, large or small.

Michael Strickland said...

Dear mw: I was one of the Late Adopters to a Blogger upgrade, which means most of the kinks had been ironed out and it was fairly painless. Go for it.

And yes, marijuana should be one of California's serious cash crops. It's ridiculous that there isn't yet an annual Harvest Festival at Fort Mason every Fall featuring the year's best crops in local Wine and Food and Varietal Buds.