Uncle Obama Sends Pot Growers Back to the Forest 101211
An Exclusive Fringe Report to the Free and Brave
The Obama Administration has sent a number of letters to medical cannabis dispensaries and their landlords. Just as the “we’ll put you politicians in jail” letters from federal prosecutors a few months ago slightly chilled state and local government, this attack on well established businesses and their landlords will bring about a change in society. What kind of change, and how much?
Your Fringe Editor is fully ordained in the dark art of sociological prediction. True, I completely miscalculated when the Board of Supervisors would finally demand Dr. Carol Robert’s resignation, and I was wrong about the votes, I thought it would be Nunes who would break the deadlock, and instead it was Peter Huebner.
Even so, I’ll gut a metaphorical chicken and read the entrails to determine what the effect these 16 scary letters might have on our community. Do they mean history will change, and Californians will stop selling weed to each other? Obviously not. This isn’t about selling weed, it’s about Federal Authority.
I’d like to pause for a moment to mention what a bitter disappointment George W. Obama is. Not just on this issue, but in general. He’s revealed himself to be a pretty good talker, but there is nothing distinguishing him from his predecessors. Let’s hope the Democrats see fit to hold a primary, though elections are part of the self-delusion in which it brings us comfort to believe that meaningful change will come from the Repblicratic party.
What are these letters?
They are an effort on the part of the Feds to maintain dominance over states. There are fifteen states which allow medical cannabis, and more are lining up. This is nearly the only social issue where the states are being rebellious against the feds. The government really, really hates it when the people lead.
While it was unlikely the feds would have arrested many local politicians, it’s nearly a sure bet they’ll go after dispensary owners and their landlords. Why? Because there is money involved, and the feds are nothing if not money grubbing blood suckers.
The intended impact of the letters is to de-legitimize cannabis as a commercial product. The feds recently affirmed that cannabis has no medical value in their formulary, meaning it isn’t blessed by the federal agencies which protect consumers, but even more important, protect the proprietary nature of drug licensing. This is the enforcement arm of that contract with big pharma.
They will certainly enforce the law against the handful of people who received letters, and then they’ll hang their gutted carcasses to rot in public view to scare the rest of us.
What Will Happen Next?
It really depends on timing. Sociologists have been studying sudden social change for over a century, and the more you study it the more complex it becomes. A revolution over ganja, the Holy Herb, God’s gift to the poor of the Earth, is certainly brewing. It won’t be what we want, but it will be change. Because society is a complex product, it inhabits a universe of probabilities. It literally depends on the amount of energy in the system, and where it is concentrated, which of the possible configurations it will finally settle on. There is a lot of energy in the medical marijuana/states’ rights issue. The “one nation indivisible” ideology emerged after the Civil War; the feds have been steadily increasing their power ever since, as is predicted of a complex bureaucracy.
But, there is always a cost to power. Power is energy in the system, it creates areas of greater or lesser activity. As in physics, there tends to be an equal and opposite reaction to energy in social systems.
To make a guesstimation as to the outcome of the letters, we have to have key data. How strong is the federal government? How dedicated to its sovereignty is the California legislature, and it’s recently reformed state enforcer Jerry Brown? How adamant are the people? What are the opportunities for resolution and how do they shunt the energy in the system?
Let’s start by acknowledging the resilience of the marijuana producing community and the energy and determination of California’s marijuana entrepreneurs. The one thing that won’t change is the amount of marijuana grown, processed, sold and smoked in California. If the feds really do crack down on the medical marijuana dispensaries, it simply means that instead of growing in legitimate grow locations, more will be grown jungle style in the hills. Instead of local governments patenting, regulating and taxing grows, more will be grown clandestinely, and the price will go up. It will become even more worth the effort to stick some Mexican growers in a National Forest near you, even more worth it to pirates and cops to find it, and so the level of violence in the woods will grow. George Obama has a fleet of sociologists on staff, and he knows this will likely be one result of a crackdown, but he doesn’t live in the forest, only we do. People want it, it grows willingly almost anywhere, no matter what happens from the letters, there will not be less marijuana.
What kind of shape is the Federal Government in? They stink on ice. There is the widespread feeling/realization that government is broken, our leaders are liars and incompetents, and the contract between ordinary citizens and their government has been broken. See the article on #Occupy in this edition. Further, the issue is not really about cannabis, it’s about MONEY! The feds increase the cost of life and decrease the funds to states, and the dollar goes to hell against gold and more importantly, against oil. Regardless official propaganda, most of us know people who don’t have jobs and aren’t going to have jobs for years, and very few of us are enjoying the “end of the recession” which is two years old now. The feds freakin’ owe us.
The Feds: riven with disagreement and disorder
California, Too Big To Ignore:
Even state politicians who aren’t crazy about pot heads, but who want to see the medical marijuana brought under control, resent the intrusion of the feds in to state business. California government stands to lose dollars, and lose face before the feds. They aren’t likely to do that, even our Governor General, who hasn’t been much of a friend to medical pot, is unlikely to be happy about the ruckus a federal crackdown would cause. Does that mean we’ll gird our loins for war and kick the feds out of Californation? Nah, it means we’ll get crabby politically, defying the feds on other things, as Schwarzenegger considered defying them on medical payments to the poor. California makes MONEY from medical cannabis, and when very recently the feds said dispensaries owed taxes on medical cannabis at the incredible federal rate, local governments encouraged their dispensaries to take only cash; in short, don’t keep books except for local taxes. As long as dispensaries pay their dues to state and local governments to be legitimate citizens, the state will gain. If they lose, so does the state.
The feds are targeting California again now, but earlier in the year they attacked 26 dispensaries in 13 towns in Montana, essentially crippling the med can distribution system… for a couple of weeks. By June of 2011 the feds had written scary letters to Vermont, Washington, Rhode Island, Arizona and Colorado. Colorado is the model of a responsible state regarding medical cannabis. The state and Denver have been very proactive to regulate and tax med can. Colorado, with over 800 med can dispensaries, is probably the safest place to buy cannabis. Colorado’s response to the scary letters is to post a measure on their ballot legalizing cannabis. There have not been massive raids against Colorado dispensaries.
The State: In a position to get crabby.
How strong are the people?
There are growing anti-government and anti-corporate sentiments in the population; Occupy Wall Street has swollen, taking on social causes including cannabis. The federal attack on states with medical cannabis is broadly based. The IRS wants to tax the “illegal” pot market, and encourages local law enforcement to rat out medical growers. That raises the ire of anti-tax groups, who find it intolerable to tax an illegal product. The Obama administration just informed firearms dealers that they may not sell to people with medical marijuana recommendations, because in the eyes of the feds med can users are addicts who are using an illegal drug, and so may not own firearms or ammunition. Thank you chicken-humping congressmen for that unreasonable curtailment of firearms ownership, a by product of the war on drugs. Even so, that raises the ire of fire arms ownership advocates, who suggest that under state law med can users aren’t criminals.
The commercial retail workers union in the nation had this to say in a recent press release:
(Washington, D.C.) – The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), the nation’s largest retail worker organization, demands an immediate end to the U.S. Attorney’s misguided prosecution of operators of small dispensaries of legal medical cannabis in California.
In the past year, thousands of hardworking and taxpaying medical cannabis industry workers have joined together with the UFCW in various states in order to protect their jobs in this emerging industry. In today’s economy, hourly wage jobs like these that pay good wages with decent benefits are vital to keeping our economy afloat and families out of poverty.
Still, the people aren’t organized enough to simply insist that our congress people get on the stick and resolve the marijuana issue; that kind of social change is down the road still and I don’t think there’s enough energy in the system for such a sudden change. Like the fall of the Soviet Union or the fall of the Berlin Wall, cannabis legalization will appear suddenly, but happen only after a lengthy gestation period during which the balance of energy shifts across the system.
Instead, things will probably have to get worse for a little while. How much worse depends on what the government really wants. It’s possible the Obama administration wants congress to resolve the issue.
The People: dazed and confused
Congress might attempt to remedy the problem, but, it won’t be that easy.
There is legislation in congress which would decriminalize personal use and talk of a bill which would recognize states’ rights to legalize for medical use. The first bill was sponsored by Barney Frank (D-MA), Ron Paul (R-TX) along with Reps. Cohen (D-TN), Conyers (D-MI), Polis (D-CO), and Lee (D-CA). It would remove cannabis and Tetra Hydro Cannabinol from federal FDA and drug enforcement control. It leaves it to the states to regulate and control cannabis. However, medicines are still the purview of the feds, so states might be able to completely legalize cannabis, but not allow it as medicine.
It’s left up to our legislators to do something about legalizing cannabis at the federal level so states can respond to their voters. It’s up to the voters to pressure their legislators. Maybe Obama is trying to tip the situation into a new equilibrium. If he doesn’t we should.
The Likelihood of change in the federal approach to medical cannabis in the next 12 months: 100%