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Obama must take a stand on cannabis

By admin | November 17, 2012

Obama must take a stand on cannabis


Call it the Marijuana domino effect. Less than two weeks after Washington and Colorado voted to legalize and regulate cannabis, lawmakers in five other states say they are considering similar bills.

In Latin American, Mexican President Felipe Calderon says Uncle Sam now has lost the “moral authority” to ask other nations to maintain the cannabis prohibition and combat trafficking.

A fundamental change has occurred, he added, that requires the rethinking of public policy in the entire Western Hemisphere.

Calderon joined the leaders of Belize, Honduras and Costa Rica on Monday calling for the Organization of American States to study the change, and saying the UN General Assembly should hold a special session on the prohibition of drugs by 2015.

What didn’t seem remotely possible a fortnight ago suddenly seems inevitable.

Lawmakers in Rhode Island and Maine said they intend to introduce marijuana legalization bills for debate next year, politicians in Vermont and Massachusetts indicated they will, too, and Ohio may join them.

Since even homegrown marijuana smuggled from Colorado and Washington would be far cheaper than B.C. Bud or Mexican schwag, with the exception of a few border states, the Sinaloa cartel could soon lose up to half its total income from American cannabis consumers.

A Mexican think-tank says the two states may do more damage to the country’s bloodthirsty narcoterrorists than the war on drugs came close to achieving.

Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., the Obama Administration is flummoxed by the sea change in the public mood towards marijuana and the expensive, failed attempt to control it with criminal laws.

Few would have predicted the pot prohibition could fall almost overnight like the Iron Curtain, nevertheless the two-state triumph has set off a series of tremors that suggest the people’s will has shifted.

America appears to have reached a tipping point in terms of attitudes toward cannabis and, if the weight of public opinion truly has passed the fulcrum, change could be rapid.

Legalization campaigns are no longer smoky affairs financed by dime bags peddled by Cheech-and-Chong aficionados and Big Lebowski-Dude wannabes. They’re well-funded, well-organized and cross partisan lines: In swing state Colorado, pot outpolled President Barack Obama.

The stoned and the sober agree the prohibition is an abject failure: It’s easier for kids to get weed than alcohol or tobacco.

Those in B.C. pushing for change have taken notice and embarked on a similarly professional campaign that addresses middle-class concerns instead of staging smoke-ins.

Legalization promises tax revenue for governments and an above board alternative lifestyle for those with a gift for growing or retailing the herb.

Washington State thinks there’s a half-billion a year in tax revenue waiting to be harvested and everyone understands the black market must be dismantled.

Legalization will mean kids aren’t saddled with lifelong criminal records, our communities will be rid of illegal grow-operations and gangs will lose a key profit centre.

It is estimated the U.S. could save $7.7 billion by legalizing pot and generate another $6 billion by taxing it at the same rate as alcohol and tobacco

How the states propose to regulate and tax larger-scale production and distribution is the billion-dollar question. Colorado has until July 1 and Washington until the end of next year to issue a statewide regulatory plan, and both say they plan to meet the deadlines.

President Obama may be willing to go with the flow.

The U.S. federal government so far has refused to denounce – or accept – what has happened, even after the state governors asked this week for clarification.

Obama faces 18 states that have legalized medical marijuana with a spectrum of regulatory models that range from supplying anyone with so much as a broken heart, to meting it out to only the seriously debilitated and dying.

As a candidate in 2008, and again as president in 2009, Obama promised restraint when it came to enforcing federal laws against med-pot.

His record is questionable – he has been tough on states with liberal access and less aggressive with those maintaining more rigorous regimes.

Regardless, many of his donors and advisers urge him to use his second term as a chance to pursue authentic drug-policy reform. He could watch as more and more states vote on legalization, or he could lead.

Regardless, the dominoes have begun to topple: and Canada will follow.

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