Pubdate: Sun, 27 Sep 2015
Source: Daily Record, The (Parsippany, NJ)
Copyright: 2015 The Daily Record
Author: Dana Rohrabacher
Note Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican, represents California's 48th 
Congressional District.


The end of the second prohibition era draws near. The disastrous 
consequences of the misbegotten "War on Drugs," with its focus on 
marijuana, are now widely recognized. More humane approaches to drug 
use are being implemented as states ease restrictions.

But not if the bitter-enders prevail - as witness Gov. Chris 
Christie's struggle with the issue in the most recent GOP debate.

President Nixon declared war on drugs in 1971, placing the 
counter-culture's favored drug, marijuana, on Schedule I of 
controlled substances. Since then, countless lives have been ruined, 
not so much by the drug itself, but by the legal regime that followed.

Whereas it is true that less than 10 percent of pot arrests are 
designated felonies, recorded misdemeanors stay on offenders' 
records. This especially damages minority and other young Americans 
seeking jobs. In the most serious cases, appallingly long sentences, 
counted in decades of imprisonment, disrupt sustainable employment 
and tear apart families.

Our criminal justice system has been corrupted and our foreign policy 
- - as every Mexican president since Vicente Fox has complained, as 
well as other Latin American leaders - perverted, undermining our 
ability to conduct positive relations with our neighbors.

Inner-city violence and hostility to militarized police stem both 
directly and indirectly from the drug war. Beyond our borders, a wave 
of anti-American sentiment grows as an unintentional consequence of 
our global do-goodism.

The generations since Nixon placed his faith in massive coercion have 
advanced toward a psychology of individual decision-making, which 
promises far more progress against addiction and self-destruction.

Among the most glaring hypocrisies in this debate is the succession 
of baby-boomer political figures - exemplified by former-president 
and prospective first gentleman Bill Clinton and President Barack 
Obama - who, having acknowledged youthful pot-puffing, cannot bring 
themselves to assist in eliminating the penalties they themselves circumvented.

By their unwillingness to defund and declaw our monstrous weed 
warrior machine, they deny young Americans the same potholed path to 
redemption and success they themselves managed to follow.

Too many conservatives and progressives meet in an antiquated belief 
that citizens must be coddled throughout life. Ordinary Americans are 
considered adolescent, rambunctious students, and they, the 
government, are junior high school vice principals.

Most of us who grew up since the '60s reject the need of lifelong 
guidance by vice principals, whether local, state or federal. The 
vice principals' "gateway" argument - that a recreational joint leads 
inexorably to helpless injections of the hard stuff - is a hopeless fallacy.

By such illogic, underage beer-chugging constitutes a likelier 
gateway candidate. We inhaled, we partied and then we moved on with 
life, the vast majority of us unsullied.

Never mind the statistics. Just ask around your workplace, your 
faculty lounge, even your church.

The drug war bureaucracy has been more focused in securing its own 
budgets and bolstering its law-enforcement power than in tackling an 
impossible job. It has gone to great lengths to obscure the failure 
of the mission.

Last year, my Democratic colleague Rep. Sam Farr and I attached a 
provision to a spending bill blocking federal authorities from 
prosecuting medical marijuana cases in states that have legalized it. 
In a Feb. 27 memo this year, the Justice Department owned up to 
issuing talking points to Congress to derail passage of our amendment.

The talking points warned that our provision was so powerful that it 
would thwart the feds' ability to prosecute not only medical but even 
recreational marijuana use. So now, by the DOJ's own admission, we 
learn its previous legal analysis was wrong.

But now that the amendment is law, the department continues to 
prosecute medical marijuana practitioners, claiming it is not barred 
from pursuing those prosecutions.

This heavy-handed hypocrisy violates what Congress passed into law 
for two consecutive years. Rep. Farr and I have demanded the 
department's inspector general investigate its agents' lawless behavior.

Bitter-enders argue that they're simply protecting people from 
themselves, dismissing any medicinal potential for marijuana. But 
anecdotal evidence supporting medical marijuana has reached critical 
mass. Veterans find relief from PTSD, children from seizures, seniors 
from arthritis and so on.

Is research limited and inconclusive? How could it be otherwise when 
marijuana's Schedule I status prevents the fullest possible 
scientific research?

Marijuana entrepreneurs are ready to meet demand and minimize 
dangers. Unlike now, legal pot will carry carefully calibrated, 
identifiable and advertised levels of potency. That is how 
competitive capitalism works, with self-regulation far more exacting 
than anything government can concoct.

The real issue is personal freedom.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom